Britain’s energy regulator today announces grants from a new £450 million fund to spur green innovation towards Net Zero in clean heat, power system integration, energy storage and e-mobility.

Transforming the nation by 2026 into the ‘Silicon Valley of energy’, in Ofgem’s words, is the ambition behind the Strategic Innovation Fund, a component in the regulator’s RIIO2 price cap regime.

System and network operators, engineering firms, technologists and academics are all eligible to bid for cash to Innovate UK, who’ll adjudicate in partnership with Ofgem.

Entrants being ‘bold and ambitious’  in conjuring up new measures lending themselves to system-wide deployment, are key success factors, according to the fund’s overseers.

Ofgem’s head Jonathan Brearley said, “What we need more than ever to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero is innovation.

“The Strategic Innovation Fund means cutting-edge ideas and new technologies become a reality, helping us find greener ways to travel and to heat and power Britain at low cost”.

Brearley added; “Britain’s energy infrastructure will play a pivotal role in cutting net zero greenhouse gas emissions. This fund will help make sure our energy system is ready to deliver that.”

Conceived to last as long as RIIO2 does, the £450 million pot may be expanded if ‘regular challenge competitions’ demonstrate a need.

To advance beyond initial screening, ideas must demonstrate deployment potential in four key areas; – whole system integration, data and digitalisation, heat and transport.

Indro Mukerjee, chief executive of Innovate UK, said, ”The ideas of the UK’s world-leading innovative businesses and researchers have the potential to reshape the gas and electricity networks for net zero, while generating commercial growth”.

Alongside the fund, the government also announces today a three-month programme of “practical net zero workshops”, advising thousands of UK businesses.  As lockdown ends, Beis intends the initiative to prevent British businesses’ energy use bouncing back into wasteful practices.

One environmental NGO was withering about the advice programme.   For Greenpeace UK, senior climate adviser Charlie Kronick, Greenpeace, opined to a national newspaper:

“It’s not just the half-hearted gimmicky bus tour which will end in November before the hard work of decarbonising the British economy will really start. It is the transparent hucksterism, the blatant hypocrisy and the almost criminally limited ambition that stands out.”


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