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Further boost to energy innovation funding

Having awarded £15 million to R&D projects in 2016, including several in the North West, the government has announced a further £28 million to support energy efficiency and storage solutions.

Having awarded £15 million to R&D projects in 2016, including several in the North West, the government has announced a further £28 million to support energy efficiency and storage solutions.

The £15 million in funding awards were the first under Innovate UK’s open programme, which invites business-led ideas from any technology and sector.

The winning projects cover a vast range of issues, from rapid charging technology for electric vehicles to ‘zero emission’ alternatives to cremation.

North West projects

Successful projects in the North West include Manchester-based cloud tech firm, Steama Company Ltd, which will receive over £200,000 to assess the potential for smart, wireless electricity meters in off-grid Sub-Saharan Africa.

Liverpool-headquartered Extreme Low Energy Ltd, which produces low energy direct current (DC) IT infrastructure, will share £176,000 with Lancaster University to assess the feasibility of a low energy cooling system for servers.

Other regional winners include Lancashire-based Victrex Manufacturing Ltd, which will play a part in a De Montfort University project to develop lower cost silicon solar PV cells, and Vertogen Ltd, also in Lancashire, which will receive £95,000 to develop more efficient ‘vertical axis’ wind turbines. 

Industrial strategy

Following the release of the government’s new industrial strategy paper, a further £28 million will now be made available through a series of new innovation projects.

The government’s green paper identified the need to do more to put British companies at the forefront of energy innovation, particularly in energy storage, smart technologies and electric vehicles.

Climate change and industry minister Nick Hurd said: “Innovation in energy will play an important role to shape our low carbon future to rebuild an outdated energy system. That’s why we’ve increased our financial support, helping to create jobs and opportunities for people across the UK.

“Our Industrial Strategy green paper seeks views on how we can support these emerging technologies, ensuring we drive growth and develop international partnerships across our world leading research, science and innovation sector.”

New funding

Under the new investment, up to £9 million will be spent on a competition to reduce the cost of energy storage, including electricity, thermal, and power-to-gas storage, and up to £600,000 for feasibility studies for projects that can store energy on a large scale.

Up to £7.6 million will be available for advancing energy demand side response technologies that can help both private and public sector organisations reduce energy use in peak times.

Around £9 million will be invested in a competition for an ‘industrial energy efficiency accelerator’ to find new ways of improving the energy efficiency of UK industry.