Full of energy

I am always keen to reinforce that the Technology Strategy Board is much more than just a funding agency but it is really pleasing when we can announce a new funding competition, particularly when it's long awaited and really welcomed by the community. So it was with great pleasure that I was able to announce our ‘Cat Call’ last week, a £15m competition for Carbon Abatement Technologies, in partnership with Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Northern Way at the Advanced Power Generation Technology Forum. The announcement was well received; companies now have three months to work up consortia and appropriate bids. I look forward to the dialogue in the coming months.

It concerns me at times, however, how much we still have to do to increase the general level of awareness about the role of the Technology Strategy Board and the impact it is making. It concerns me even more when I hear people think that our organisation is not involved in the support of our energy sector businesses. Energy is one of our top priority areas for this year. Indeed it was one of the first areas for which we issued a detailed strategy last year.

In fact our portfolio already contains more than 75 active projects in low carbon energy technologies, with a combined public sector funding contribution of £140m. Energy covers a very large landscape - through generation, supply and distribution - and of course wide areas of usage. Our challenge-led approach has been particularly focused around usage and in the past months we have had high profile competition announcements for low carbon vehicles and technologies for retrofit and new build low impact housing. I remember opening the visitors' centre at the Building Research Establishment last year and experiencing first hand some of the low carbon technologies we have helped develop, being showcased in the show homes on the demonstrator park.

We have a wide range of underpinning energy technologies projects – from materials for energy and advanced lighting and displays through to the live £5m competition aimed at oil and gas extraction technologies, particularly in difficult-to-access areas. We also have a competition in hydrogen and fuel cells opening in March 2009.

The current projects include a very wide range of businesses, such as Ceres Power working on CHP systems, ACAL Energy, and Intelligent Energy developing fuel cell technologies to power zero emission taxis planned for the London 2012 Games. The projects also include much more sizeable programmes, such as the OxyCoal-UK project led by Doosan Babcock.

There are also many links to energy projects in the 900-plus KTPprojects managed by the Technology Strategy Board – some great examples in the area of cleantech can be found on the online database. One of the key challenges for us is to increase KTP links with the energy agenda and ensure, particularly in these more difficult times, that we are maximising the opportunity of what is one of the UK’s leading graduate recruitment programmes, to further exploit low carbon knowledge transfer from universities to business. I pick out just two examples illustrating the opportunity to connect KTPs to our energy programmes. Firstly, a project between the University of Glamorganand I-Vision (UK) Limited for the design and installation of coloured and white LED light installations for entertainment, corporate and other major events.This is a 50:50 project between the Technology Strategy Board and the Welsh Assembly Government with some fantastic applications. A second example is a Technology Strategy Board funded partmership between London South Bank University and Paper Round Ltd to develop 'carbon smart' - a unique carbon-saving service for SME offices. I strongly believe that there is good opportunity to develop KTPs further to support the energy agenda.

We are often challenged about the seemingly complex landscape of players in the energy area. In fact there is already good coordination across the players and the objective is to ensure that activities complement rather than duplicate. The Technology Strategy Board works in close partnership with both the Energy Technologies Institute and the Carbon Trust. I have regular contacts at Chief Executive level with both these organisations. Indeed the Technology Strategy Board, along with EPSRC, are one of the two public sector funding providers to the ETI and our technologists help the ETI  to develop their priority areas within the energy landscape. The recent ETI announcement of support for marine tidal energy project ReDApt is a good example of cooperation. ReDapt builds on the previous Technology Strategy Board work with Tidal Generation, a 500mW prototype tidal turbine project, demonstrating how technology projects can link up as they head towards full scale demonstration. The Technology Strategy Board is also a member of the Energy Research Partnership, a body that sits across government and business to review research and technology needs identified by business and progress against agreed work plans.

To help the transfer of knowledge across the different parts of the energy landscape, we are in the final stages of putting together a Knowledge Transfer Network for Energy Generation and Supply. This network will join the other KTNs supported by the Technology Strategy Board, embracing some 40,000 members from business and academic organisations active in the exploitation of technology and innovation.

So, as I said at the start, our ‘Cat Call’ is just one piece of what is a key priority theme for the Technology Strategy Board in the coming months – using the challenge of the environment and efficient energy solutions as a driver for UK business benefit.


Last updated on Friday 24 February 2012 at 10:37

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