New £450m fund to unlock innovation

A new fund will unlock greener ways to travel and to heat and power homes and businesses, by harnessing a new approach to energy network innovation. This will keep bills as low as possible, drive the UK towards its goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and help turn the UK into the ‘Silicon Valley’ of energy.

The fund, which opens for application on 31 August, is part of Ofgem’s RII02 price controls for the electricity system operator and the network companies that operate GB’s energy pipes and wires. The fund will be approved by Ofgem and managed in partnership with Innovate UK.

£450 million will initially become available over the next five years through the fund, with the option to increase in response to need and if innovators bring forward strong plans. Together, network companies, system operators, and the world’s leading businesses and researchers will use this money to drive big ideas that accelerate the transition to an emissions-free energy system and at the same time help to position the UK as a world leader in energy innovation.

To apply for the first round of funding, network companies must address four major strategic challenges that are crucial for the energy transition. These are:

  • Whole system integration
  • Data and digitalisation
  • Heat
  • Transport

Projects could range from ensuring the networks are ready to roll out clean heating solutions such as heat pumps to Britain’s homes to developing ways for network companies to work together across transmission, distribution, system operation, gas and electricity. Projects could also include developing new technologies for networks to support flexible energy solutions, such as battery storage technology, to ensure electricity is used and stored more effectively, thereby bringing down bills and emissions. Ideas need to be big, bold and ambitious with potential to scale across the networks upon completion.

Energy Minister, Lord Callanan at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy, says: “The Strategic Innovation Fund will ensure the best projects and most talented minds have the grants available to reduce carbon emissions and enable bill payers to see the benefits of building back greener.”

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