£2.4m wired to the energy network

Posted on 28 Nov 2011

A four year government-funded programme that aims to develop new technologies to help meet the needs of the UK’s future power systems will kick-off with investment of £2.4 million in feasibility studies.

This is inestment is designed to stimulate innovation in automated power distribution and demand management.

The funding competition is the first element of a planned portfolio of investment into power network innovations and forms the exploratory phase of the programme, which will be funded and managed by the government’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “By 2050, there will be a complex mix of energy generating assets including everything from nuclear power stations to offshore wind turbines and solar cells on people’s houses. At the same time, demand for power will go up and the power sector will need to manage new requirements, such as the electrification of heating systems and the incorporation of electric vehicles into the electricity system.”

Mr Gray continued: “In this complex future grid, the challenge will be to match demand and supply.  The scope of this initial funding competition will, therefore, focus on real-time monitoring, control, analysis and the balancing of supply with demand.”

Pike Research suggested that the global market for goods in the field of energy networks could be worth an estimated £110 billion by 2014. It is estimated that reinforcements to the power network through increased automation of distribution and demand side participation – the ability of energy consumers to make decisions about the quantity and timing of their electricity supply – will save the UK £8bn by 2020.

These areas require the advanced integration of information and communications technologies, electronics, photonics & electrical systems, advanced materials, industrial mathematics and nanoscale technologies.

The Smart Power Distribution and Demand competition for funding feasibility studies opens on 9 January 2012 and the deadline for submission of applications is 22 February 2012.  A briefing event will take place in Birmingham on 18 January 2012.  This will highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process.

£25,000 of match funding will be available for short-term feasibility studies that present concepts for future innovative technologies, business and operational models with the potential to make a substantial contribution to the cost effective development of flexible, resilient, self-healing and secure future power networks.

For more detailed feasibility studies, presenting opportunities to demonstrate innovation, up to £100,000 match funding will be available.  Such proposals might feature novel individual technologies or demonstrate new integrated systems as well as operational and business models.