The launch of a £102 million investment programme in new local energy approaches has been completed today with the announcement of a new research consortium.

The development of a network of the best UK research and expertise in energy from right across the research disciplines, completes the launch of the £102.5 million prospering from the energy revolution challenge, which is part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.
Rooftop solar energy
The energy revolution research consortium will deliver a suite of strategic research projects that address industry- led challenges in the development of local, investable, consumer-centred energy approaches to create prosperous clean energy communities.

Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

Clean and affordable energy is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century and one that affects us all.”

“The energy revolution challenge will address this societal and environmental need by unlocking the potential of world-class research and innovation.”

“It will create the new commercial solutions that benefit consumers through reduced bills, that drive economic growth through new businesses and high-value jobs, and do this at a reduced environmental cost.”

Through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, Walport’s team is tackling major industrial and societal challenges and supporting the UK to become an even stronger knowledge-driven economy.

The research consortium competition builds on a series of announcements in recent weeks that detail how the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is developing cutting-edge capabilities in local systems that deliver cleaner, cheaper and more resilient energy for consumers; which includ:

Smart local energy systems demonstrators and designs

The fast-track creation of up to 3 practical local energy systems demonstrators and a range of whole-system design studies, which could be ready for new consumer energy systems in the 2020s.

The practical demonstrators will build supply chain capabilities, deliver positive changes for energy consumers, and inform future projects. The design studies will create a pipeline of investable projects for the future.

Innovation accelerator fund

The innovation accelerator fund will develop and commercialise smart local energy system products and services, and help UK business and researchers engage with the best international innovation opportunities.

Research and integration services

A world-leading, inter-disciplinary research programme will be commissioned to work alongside the Energy Systems Catapult. The programme will provide coordination and technical support to demonstration and design projects.

Rob Saunders, Interim Challenge Director, Prospering from the Energy Revolution, said: “This is an exciting time for energy innovations. The convergence of new technologies with artificial intelligence, big data, and the internet of things promises a new energy future.”

“This future will be one of lower carbon and more efficient energy supply, distribution and storage, giving consumers more control. This energy revolution – a crucial part of the Industrial Strategy – has the potential to unlock investment, create high-quality jobs all over the country and grow companies capable of exporting.”

The project includes providing energy in ways that consumers want by linking low-carbon power, heating and transport systems with energy storage and advanced IT to create intelligent, local energy systems and services.

Further funding to make up the rest of the challenge will be announced in future financial years.

The funding will be awarded competitively by UK Research and Innovation, the new organisation that brings together the UK research councils, Innovate UK and Research England into a single organisation to create the best environment for research and innovation to flourish.

Omar Rahim, CEO of Energi Mine told Decentralized Energy welcomes the news as timely, saying, “The market for power generation is becoming increasingly decentralized, with more and more individuals and businesses generating their own energy through renewables. However, they are still selling this energy back to the big energy companies, who are still incentivised to sell as much energy as possible at the highest possible price.

“This programme’s consumer-centric research projects, when combined with the fast-tracked creation of up to 3 local energy systems, could pave the way for an alternative to consumer’s reliance on the big 6 energy providers. Hopefully success here will help create a pipeline of investable projects for the future.”

“In order to break the current cycle and drive down the spiralling prices, renewable developments like this need to be integrated with peer-to-peer trading arrangements as a more effective and cheaper way of providing energy to consumers.”