Venture Capital: A New $620M Innovation Fund Wants Britain To Become The “Silicon Valley Of Energy”

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The UK’s £450 million (US$620 million) energy innovation fund is looking for “big, bold, and ambitious” ideas.

In a move aimed to decarbonize the UK’s energy networks, Ofgem, the country’s energy system regulator, and Innovate UK are inviting applications for a £450 million (US$620 million) energy innovation fund in the areas of heating, transport, digitalization, and system integration. (FT)

The UK will host the UN’s COP26 climate summit later this year and is committed to cutting emissions to net-zero by 2050. It has already converted a significant part of its power generation to renewables such as onshore and offshore wind and resorted to energy imports to replace coal-based energy generated at home.

Ideas for funding

“What we need, more than ever, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero, is innovation,” said Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s chief executive. “The strategic innovation fund means cutting-edge ideas and new technologies become a reality, helping us find greener ways to travel and to heat and power Britain at low cost.

Ofgem said it was looking for ideas that are big, bold, and ambitious with the potential to scale across the networks upon completion.

In a bid to counter the “intermittency” of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, Ofgem is also looking for innovative projects in battery storage technology.

Projects should aim for collaborations by network companies across transmission, distribution, system operation, gas, and electricity, Ofgem said. Accordingly, companies and universities should partner with the gas and electricity network and system operators and form consortiums that can then apply competitively for funding.

The fund is open for five years but can be extended for “strong plans.”

“The Strategic Innovation Fund will ensure the best projects and most talented minds have the grants available to reduce carbon emissions and enable bill payers to see the benefits of building back greener,” said energy minister Lord Callanan.

Related Story:  Form Energy Scores $240M For Its Revolutionary Iron-Air Battery

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