Press release

Government invests £25 million in game-changing green technologies

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Forty new technologies have won funding through the first round of Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst.

Windows that act as solar panels, an engine which runs on landfill emissions and Europe’s biggest battery are all a step closer to reality after receiving a share of £24.5 million of government funding.

These projects are among 40 new technologies which have won funding through the first round of Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst, which is designed to help tackle the so-called energy ‘trilemma’ of reducing carbon emissions, increasing security of supply and cutting the cost of energy.

Business and Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock said:

The projects we are backing, through the Energy Catalyst, demonstrate the depth and breadth of British innovation in the sector. Many of these projects are not only UK firsts, but world firsts, and by supporting them at this early stage, we will ensure the UK reaps the rewards in the future.

By funding this research we are not only working towards our goal of reducing carbon emissions, but fostering an environment that will create jobs, grow business and maintain the UK’s position at the cutting edge of technological advancement.

Rob Saunders, Head of Energy at Innovate UK said:

The projects that have won funding in this first round are exactly the sort of innovative ideas we had in mind when the energy catalyst was created. The second round is well under way and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing UK firms come forward with more new ways of securing a reliable, low carbon and low cost energy system.

Among the winners is Cambridge-based Nyak Technology which has been awarded almost £200,000 to help develop an organic solar cell that could eventually see the windows in our homes replaced by transparent, energy producing solar panels. Not only would this be a far more discreet and convenient means of harnessing solar power in the home, it could also prove to be far cheaper. Early research suggests that these cells could reduce the overall cost of solar devices by as much as 70%.

Another winner, Oaktec, is intending to use the £220,000 it has received to fund a system which is not dissimilar to technology first seen in the ‘80s classic movie, Back to the Future. It will be testing the feasibility of its Pulse-R engine system, which can use the untreated gas from landfill sites to power a self-supercharged biogas engine.

Notes to editors

  1. For more details about the winners please contact PJ Taylor at the Innovate UK press office
  2. The Energy Catalyst has been established by Innovate UK the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to accelerate innovation in the energy sector.
  3. Up to £14 million is available for the second round of the Catalyst to innovative businesses and researchers from any sector who can address the 3 major challenges facing the energy sector - the ‘trilemma’ of:
    • reducing emissions
    • improving security of supply
    • reducing cost
  4. The UK has a legally-binding obligation to ensure that 15% of our total energy must come from renewable sources by 2020. Other opportunities to develop innovative new products and services are presented by domestic policy and legal requirements, such as:
    • the statutory requirement that UK greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (based on 1990 levels)
    • the security of an estimated 85GW indigenous supply requirement in the UK by 2020
    • the need to provide affordable energy for all
  5. Details of Round 2 of the Energy Catalyst can be found at the Catalyst web pages
  6. Further details on the government’s energy strategy can be found at Energy strategy 2012 to 2015

Further case studies:

Building the biggest battery in Europe - AES Kilroot Power Limited (Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland)

The increase in variable or intermittent electricity supplies provided by renewable energy has led to increasing constraints on renewable generation, which comes at considerable cost to the consumer. This project will connect a 10MW Lithium Ion battery array to Northern Ireland’s grid - the largest and only transmission connected battery of its kind in the whole of Europe - to monitor, evaluate and substantiate the value of storage in providing flexible services.

New, fast and environmentally friendly alternative to fracking - XL Technology Limited (Surrey)

OCTOPUS is a technology which will improve the economics, speed and environmental impact of shale gas and oil extraction. OCTOPUS technology will make it possible to drill a large number of holes, simultaneously, which will help to achieve a well that is 2 to 10 times more productive. It will not use environmentally unfriendly chemicals, and doesn’t need huge quantities of clean water.