Energy underpins almost every aspect of our daily lives. We have learnt to take it for granted and treat it as a commodity that will always be able to meet our increasing demands. However, global legislation such as the Kyoto Protocol and domestic energy policies are now making us reassess our attitude to energy and its value.
The way the world produces and uses energy is not sustainable. It not only damages our natural world through climate change and resource use, but it also affects our quality of life through cost and comfort. At the Technology Strategy Board we take these sorts of challenges and turn them into opportunities for the UK to innovate and collaborate on new and potentially world-beating technologies.
New technologies are costly. Energy is a commodity and to compete, new technologies must ensure they add value in terms of security, sustainability and affordability. Offshore renewables are a good illustration of this balance. In the UK we have prodigious offshore wind, tidal stream and wave energy resource. Although this offers a sustainable and indigenous source of supply, the cost is currently prohibitive without significant government subsidy and is a major challenge to the industry.
Supply chain development
To be competitive, new energy technologies must have capable and innovative supply chains. There is an opportunity for the UK to develop goods and services in those parts of the supply chain where maximum value can be created and captured.
A skilled and well-trained workforce is needed to deliver often very technical and safety-critical innovations. In a number of energy sectors, there is considerable concern regarding skills gaps and human capital depreciation. Equally, there is a challenge regarding how to transfer knowledge and innovation from the research base into industry.
Innovation needs a capable infrastructure to manage, transmit and distribute new energy technologies, both in terms of supply but also on the demand side. Above all, the future energy system has to be flexible and be able to handle a mix of generating technologies, deal with intermittency of renewable supply, automate the management of energy demand and inform consumer response and behaviour.
Stable and consistent energy policies are needed to give industry the confidence to invest in innovation. Policy and regulation are fundamental in determining the pace of market development. To invest in new infrastructure, new generating capacity and demand side measures, new supply chains and new skills, industry needs certainty with regards to regulation, planning and capacity targets.
There are great opportunities for UK business and economic growth in addressing energy security, affordability and sustainability. Manufacturing and scale-up of new technologies often takes place at the point of invention; we want that point to be the UK.
In many of the technologies that address these challenges, the UK has the potential to be world leading. In offshore renewables, our policies and deployment targets make us one of the most attractive countries in the world.
By 2050, offshore renewable energy in the UK could add £34bn GVA by capturing about 10% of the global market value in marine energy and about 12% of that in offshore wind. You can find out more about UK opportunities by reading our 2012-2015 Energy supply strategy
We are focusing our strategy on three overarching objectives where we believe UK business can really make a difference and generate wealth:
Developing affordable and secure sources of energy supply which also reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
Integrating future demand and energy supply into a flexible, secure and resilient energy system
Reducing GHG emissions at point of use.
We invest substantial sums into the Energy sector to specifically help the UK energy industry. We are also looking to invest jointly with other funding organisations in priority areas that help UK businesses to innovate.
Some examples of our investments between 2007 and 2012:
£25.5m in offshore renewables, including co-funding of £5.5m from Scottish Enterprise, NERC and RDAs with a commitment to invest a further £10m core funding per annum to the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult centre
£29.5m in fuel cells and hydrogen, including £7m co-funding from DECC
£19.5m in carbon abatement technologies, including £9m from DECC and RDAs
£17m in civil nuclear, including £8m from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, DECC and EPSRC
£11.9m in grid balancing, management and infrastructure and £6m in oil and gas
To bring together the Energy innovation community, we have established the Energy Generation and Supply Knowledge Transfer Network. To become a member visit http://ktn.innovateuk.org/web/energyktn
The Technology Strategy Board is a member of the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group
. We are also one of the sponsors of the Energy Technologies Institute and, in addition, we work closely with other funding agencies such as DECC, the Research Councils, and the Carbon Trust to develop a coordinated Energy R&D programme for the UK.
Energy action plan 2013-14
Energy supply - strategy 2012-15