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New scheme launched for collaborative energy innovations

A £450 million programme to promote innovation in energy networks is seeking novel proposals from businesses that could help to accelerate the transition to net zero emissions.

Ofgem and Innovate UK have combined to announce a set of challenge areas for a new round of funding under the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) – a five-year programme to promote energy network innovation.

The SIF aims to find and fund ambitious, innovative projects with the potential to accelerate the energy transition to net zero at the lowest cost to consumers. Innovators working with energy companies can apply for £150,000 to develop their ideas, with projects judged to have the greatest potential awarded up to £500,000 for further development.

The four challenge areas are:

  • Supporting a just energy transition: New ways to identify and support vulnerable customers and help those who are disadvantaged, fuel poor or off the gas grid to reduce heat and mobility carbon emissions
  • Preparing for a net zero power system: New ways to support low-stability systems and to use new sources of energy supply and demand to help manage grids
  • Improving energy system resilience and robustness: Ways to develop multi-energy systems and make them more resilient, and strengthening energy system robustness so that new infrastructure can be rolled out efficiently
  • Accelerating decarbonisation of major energy demands: Ways to manage and integrate large-scale demands from heat and transport, integrating heat networks for wider energy network management and improving energy efficiency at all levels in the system.

Matt Hastings, Deputy Director of the SIF programme at Innovate UK, has confirmed that innovators from any sector can take part:

“We believe we can make the UK the best place in the world to be an energy entrepreneur. The first round of the SIF produced 40 innovation projects across a wide range of themes, showing that the sector is ready to join in this ‘giant leap together’ to decarbonise the energy networks.

“With the next challenge areas now clear we expect that many dynamic new collaborations will form this year, as energy networks get together with other innovators, inside or outside the energy sector, to take part.”

The fund opens for applications in early September 2022. A launch webinar on 25 May 2022 will explain more about the programme.

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