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Cleaner, affordable energy a step closer thanks to £25m Government boost

Innovate UK

3 min read Partner content

Windows that are solar panels, building the biggest battery in Europe and an engine which runs on the gas from landfill sites are a step closer to reality after they received a 24.5 million funding boost announced by Business and Energy minister Matthew Hancock today.

The technologies are among 40 successful bids which have won a competition run by the Government’s innovation experts Innovate UK to target commercially promising new technologies that can help supply affordable, secure and sustainable energy.

Announcing the results of the competition - which has received additional funding from the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council - Matthew Hancock said:

"The projects we are backing, through the Energy Catalyst, demonstrate the depth and breadth of British innovation in the sector. Many of these projects are not only UK firsts, but world firsts, and by supporting them at this early stage, we will ensure the UK reaps the rewards in the future.

"By funding this research we are not only working towards our goal of reducing carbon emissions, but fostering an environment that will create jobs, grow business and maintain the UK’s position at the cutting edge of technological advancement."

Rob Saunders, head of energy at Innovate UK said:

“The projects that have won funding in this first round are exactly the sort of innovative ideas we had in mind when the energy catalyst was created. The second round is well underway and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing UK firms come forward with more new ways of securing a reliable, low carbon and low cost energy system.”

The technologies were funded through the first round of the Energy Catalyst competition, which is designed to help tackle the so-called energy ‘trilemma’ of reducing carbon emissions, increasing security of supply and cutting the cost of energy.

Case studies:

Organic solar panels which will create electricity from transparent glass windows - Nyak Technology Limited (Cambridge)

The project aims to study, assess and quantify the technical and commercial feasibility of a newly developed solar cell technology. These can potentially reduce the cost of solar cells to 30% of today's commercially available organic solar devices, enabling far greater applications to benefit from the solar energy, such as electricity generation from transparent glass windows.

New, fast and environmentally friendly alternative to fracking - X L TECHNOLOGY LIMITED (Surrey)

OCTOPUS is a technology which will lead to the developments in fracking to improve the economics, speed and environmental impacts of shale gas and oil. OCTOPUS technology will make it possible to drill simultaneously a large number of holes which will help to achieve a well that is between 2 to 10 times more productive and will enable wells to be completed 40 to 80 days sooner than existing technologies. It will also not use environmentally unfriendly chemicals, and doesn’t need huge quantities of clean water.

Engine which runs on gas from landfill sites - Oak Technical Services (Oaktec) (Lancaster)

Oaktec aims to demonstrate the feasibility of developing an engine which runs on biogas- such as that created at landfill sites or through anaerobic digestion. The technology will lead to a step change in efficiency and emissions, reliability and manufacturability, for application alongside a variety of small-scale biogas facilities.

Building the biggest battery in Europe in Northern Ireland - AES Kilroot Power Limited (Carrickfergus)

The increase in variable or intermittent electricity supplies provided by renewable energy has lead to increasing constraints on renewable generation, particularly in Northern Ireland, which come at considerable cost to the consumer. The UK has been slow to take up the potential of using batteries to overcome this problem, so this project will connect a 10MW lithium ion battery array to Northern Ireland’s grid - the largest and only transmission connected battery of its kind in the whole of Europe  - to monitor, evaluate and substantiate the value of storage in providing flexible services.

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