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RCUK Energy Programme "excellent" says independent panel

18 January 2011

An independent panel of international experts has judged the RCUK Energy Programme to be "excellent". The panel found that the Energy programme delivers good return on investment and that the excellent international reputation of UK research in energy is deservedly earned.

The programme established in 2002 works closely with more than 500 public and private sector organisations to deliver the UK’s carbon reduction targets. The review points out that the UK has in place excellent mechanisms for involving industry at all levels of research and development. The panel was particularly impressed by the high level of interest from industry in the early stages of research and how this would have a direct impact on future energy research. The panel recommends that there should be more investment in energy research if the UK is to meet its long-term emission reduction targets and that the current balance between targeted and open-ended research be maintained.

Chair of the Review, Dr Carsten Westergaard, from Vestas Technology R&D, Americas, Inc, said: "Although 40 years seems like a long time to reach emissions reduction targets, it will not be achieved without diligent focus and follow-up. The collaborative multi-body and multidisciplinary energy research organisation in the UK is setup to successfully impact on a prosperous and clean energy future. The dissemination of results from basic research through demonstration and transfer to industrial deployment is in place, so it is time to strap ourselves in for delivering cost effective solutions. Sufficient research funding to match industrial and societal interest is crucial. Finally, it is also encouraging to see the many young people embrace their own energy future through research – today we need to enable their impact potential with a sense of urgency."

The panel has made a number of recommendations including:

  • There is a need to complete and maintain a fully integrated "roadmap" for UK research targets to allow all to know and understand what is considered essential to meet society’s needs.

  • The allocation process for strategic programmes needs to be more transparent and anchored to clear plans to ensure better research community involvement and acceptance as well as a better targeting of deliverables.

  • There needs to be increased efforts to identify opportunities, provide funding and then promote, recognise and reward interdisciplinary R&D.

  • Post doctoral graduates are a critical element of the UK’s human capital. To ensure long term engagement in the UK, there needs to be more attention and resources directed to career paths both in industry and academia.

  • Meeting climate change targets of necessity requires reduction in energy demand across the board. Research on demand reduction needs a higher profile in the research portfolio, and may warrant a dedicated research programme.

Established in 2002 by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the RCUK Energy Programme aims to position the UK to meet its energy and environmental targets and policy goals through world-class research and training.

A full copy of the Review report will be made available in due course.

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Further information

Jane Wakefield
RCUK Press and Communications Manager
Tel: 01793 444592

Notes to editors

  1. The Review of Energy was conducted by an international panel of experts to determine how the UK Energy Programme has and is contributing to helping the UK achieve energy and emission target reductions. It was carried out by academics and industrialists from outside the UK, who visited a number of research groups as well as considering comprehensive supporting data. Members of the panel were:

    • Dr Carsten Westergaard (Chair), Vestas Technology R&D, Americas, Inc, USA
    • Professor Göran Andersson, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
    • Professor Rangan Banerjee, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
    • Professor Robin Batterham, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), Australia
    • Professor Frank Carré, French Atomic Energy Commission, France
    • Dr Andrew Dicks, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
    • Professor Rosemary Falcon, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
    • Professor Richard Flavell, Ceres, Inc, USA
    • Dr Clark Gellings, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), USA
    • Dr David Hill, Idaho National Laboratory, USA
    • Professor Martha Lux-Steiner, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, Germany
    • Professor Brian Norton, Dublin Institute of Technology, Republic of Ireland
    • Professor Jonathan Parker, Structural Integrity Associates, Inc, Canada
    • Dr Teresa Pontes, National Laboratory for Energy Geology, Portugal
    • Professor Sue Scott, Research Affiliate of the Economic and Social Research Institute
    • Professor Dongxiao Zhang, Peking University, China

  2. Together as RCUK, the Research Councils shape and fund research to address major societal and economic challenges by working through six major themes including the Energy Programme. More information about the cross-Council themes can be found at:

    The six cross-Council themes are:

  3. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils. We invest annually around £3 billion in research. Our focus is on excellence with impact. We nurture the highest quality research, as judged by international peer review providing the UK with a competitive advantage. Global research requires we sustain a diversity of funding approaches, fostering international collaborations, and providing access to the best facilities and infrastructure, and locating skilled researchers in stimulating environments. Our research achieves impact – the demonstrable contribution to society and the economy made by knowledge and skilled people. To deliver impact, researchers and businesses need to engage and collaborate with the public, business, government and charitable organisations.

    The seven UK Research Councils are:

    • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
    • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
    • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
    • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
    • Medical Research Council (MRC);
    • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
    • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).