Government offers £15 million for renewables research

The Government is calling on industry to submit tenders for £15 million of funding for research into renewable energy technology intended to enable UK firms to cash in on the global renewables investment, which is expected to top £400 billion in the next eight years.

The funding, announced on 28 May, is part of the £260 million announced by Prime Minister Tony Blair last year (see related story and related story) outlined priority areas for funding within the renewable energy categories. For biofuels, the priority areas include energy crop development, the economic potential of by-products and residues, and renewable transport fuels. With regard to photovoltaics, the priorities are the identification, development and evaluation of novel materials, and the development of improving existing technologies.

Priority areas for fuel cell funding include the development of fuel cell stack technologies, and the design of a compact, responsive, natural gas fuel processor, and liquid fuel processors. Offshore wind, wave and tidal stream projects can also apply for funding. Finally, the Government will not be accepting proposals for research and development into hydroelectricity.

“Effective R&D is fundamental to our international credentials in the renewable energy sector,” said Energy Minister Brian Wilson. “Renewable energy has potentially immense social and economic significance. If we in Government and in UK industry can get it right, we have the prospect of a three way gain.” This gain comprises security and diversity of energy supplies; environmental and climate change improvements; and huge potential for new jobs and export opportunities, he explained.

“The opportunity is now – others will seize the advantage if we do not,” said Wilson.

Outline proposals must be received by 11am on Thursday 18 July 2002, and for those subsequently invited to submit a full proposal should do so by 11am on 24 October 2002.

On the same day as the funding was announced, the Minister also signed a memorandum of understanding with representatives of Thailand’s Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (MOSTE) to establish and help develop a long-term relationship between energy agencies in both countries to promote their renewable energy sectors. Co-operation between the two countries could include exchange of all forms of unclassified scientific and technical information, and an exchange of scientists, engineers and other specialists.

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