Innovative techniques for domestic renewable energy installations and research into producing hydrogen from waste are among some of the proposed energy innovation projects to secure new funding from the Government. Just over £135,000 has been requested by energy regulator Ofgem and government body Innovate UK for the new projects, which, if scaled, could reduce energy costs by billions over the next few years.
The two organisations provide funding via the Strategic Innovation Fund (SID), which launched in 2021 and is expected to run for the next five years. The latest round of funding has been allocated to projects contributing to delivering resilient, net-zero energy systems for the future. On the just transition aspect, one project, SHIELD, is exploring new methods to install low-carbon technologies at home that could considerably reduce installation costs. Another project, VIVID, is exploring how smart meter data can determine properties that can benefit from grant funding from their local authority to enhance energy efficiency. Other projects, such as Net Zero Terrace, create a model for low-cost heat decarbonisation in streets with terraced housing.
The SIF is allocating funding to innovative projects in sectors including hydrogen, heating and energy storage. The ‘Electrolyser Improvements Driven by Waste Heat Recovery’ project explores the development of next-gen, highly efficient electrolysers for producing hydrogen from waste heat generated in transporting network gases. The NextGen Electrolysis project explores how green hydrogen could be produced by electrolysing wastewater instead of clean water, reducing costs and adding demand to water systems. The Hydrogen Storage project ‘Hybrid Storage System’ secured SIF support and HyCoRe Discovery, which is developing software to enhance hydrogen generation and storage facilities.
Ofgem’s director of strategy and decarbonisation Neil Kenward, explains that their work with InnovateUK is empowering the next wave of innovators and supporting the country become an energy innovation hub capable of delivering the power solutions required in the future. Kenward believes that this focus will help us transform our energy system at pace and increase the supply of clean and secure energy, reducing costs to customers nationwide.
Each project will use its funding over three months, to develop its concepts and explore future phases. Projects will then be assessed further by SIF and be granted £500,000 for an additional six-month proof of concept stage. Ofgem and InnovateUK believe this timescale would allow further innovations to proceed and are estimated significant savings on energy system operating costs.
The deputy director of the SIF programme, Max Hastings, explained that discovery is typically about learning and taking risks and admits there to be some level of failure. Hastings believes this ensures only the best ideas proceed to the next stage, with the project number reducing as consumer investment in SIF projects increases.