Clean energy innovations share £11m Government funding

A system which uses the sun to cool buildings and a biofuel cell which turns beer-waste into energy are just two of 32 clean energy projects awarded Government funding today.

More than £11m was distributed to projects through Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst programme, which supports innovations that tackle the ‘energy trilemma’ of reducing carbon emissions, reducing costs and increasing security of supply.

Innovate UK head of energy Rob Saunders said “Tackling the energy trilemma is the biggest challenge facing the energy sector today. Businesses, consumers and producers are all recognising the economic sense of reducing costs and carbon emissions, as well as making sure we have a resilient energy supply.

“The Energy Catalyst is specifically designed to address that challenge, while at the same time helping firms across the UK benefit economically from it and bring innovative new products to the market.” 

The Energy Catalyst – a joint programme between Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – aims to support ideas from concept through to prototype demonstration.

EPSRC’s chief executive Professor Philip Nelson said: “Based on the environmental, economic and security concerns alone, we have a pressing need to increase clean energy production, reduce energy waste and improve our abilities to store energy. 

“By supporting research in universities and collaboration with industry to accelerate application of its research results, the Energy Catalyst is helping the UK become more efficient, resilient and productive.”

Some of the highlights

Solar Polar, based in Peterborough, has invented a solar cooling system that will require no electrical power, will have no moving parts and could provide cooling at low cost.

Cooling consumes 14% of UK electricity annually, costing around £5bn in electricity.

The Solar Polar system is meant to be simple to build with local materials, easy to maintain, with an operating lifetime of 30 years or more. It is targeted for the cooling requirements of homes and small to medium sized offices, small scale food storage and retail spaces. 

Hyperdrive Innovation and Oxis energy are working with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to test the feasibility of energy storage in extremely cold climates, where normal batteries fail. A cold-weather battery would allow BAS to significantly increase their scientific measurements made in the Antarctic, but without increasing transport costs or emissions.

Chester based C-Tech Innovation is working with Imperial College, to develop a device which takes waste water containing carbohydrates such as sugar from food producers, breweries and uses it to simultaneously generate electricity whilst cleaning the waste water.

Brad Allen

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