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Energy underpins almost every aspect of our daily lives and yet we often take it for granted. Now, global legislation and domestic energy policies mean that we cannot do so any more. Other reasons include regional supplier disputes and rising consumer costs.
To develop and prove new technologies we need consistent policy, regulation, coordination and funding. This will ensure that we can solve all elements of the energy ‘trilemma’:
- low carbon
- security of supply
These are global challenges that are creating worldwide market opportunities for UK innovators. There are also domestic policy and legal requirements that mean we now need to:
- ensure that 15% of the UK’s total energy comes from renewable sources by 2020
- ensure that UK greenhouse gas emissions reduce by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (based on 1990 levels)
- provide a secure indigenous supply of around 85GW in the UK by 2020
- provide affordable energy for all
The energy sector is already a significant contributor to the UK economy. In 2012 UK energy industries contributed 3.5% of GDP (£55 billion). This sector also employed approximately 176,000 people.
This global market opportunity has a value of trillions of pounds. This is creating major opportunities for UK business. These businesses and supply chains can develop innovative and sustainable world-leading solutions.
No single organisation can manage an energy programme like this in isolation. It needs a coordinated approach and that’s why the Energy Catalyst was set up. The Catalyst enables publicly-funded innovation to move from concept to pre-commercial demonstration.
Innovate UK, DFID and EPSRC are funding this competition with a budget of up to £19 million. The aim is to speed up commercialisation of UK energy innovation. It will help deliver clean, affordable and resilient energy. DFID funding is for projects that are relevant to the needs of developing countries.
The Energy Catalyst supports businesses and researchers from any sector. Proposals can focus on markets anywhere in the world. Proposals must contribute to all elements of the energy trilemma - low carbon, security of supply and affordability. We recognise that some solutions may have a bias to one or two of these elements.
Innovations could include, for example:
- new technologies
- enhancement or alternative applications of existing technologies
- development of components, sub-systems or systems
- integrated whole-system approaches
- enabling technologies for the energy system
We encourage proposals which bring innovative new solutions into the energy sector and its supply chain. We also want to encourage cross-cutting and enabling technologies which can apply across a range of sectors. For example, high-value manufacturing, advanced materials, sensors and information and communication technologies (ICT).
2.2 Early-stage awards - technical feasibility
These awards fund projects that explore and test the technical potential of an innovative idea or concept. They do this through technical feasibility studies. The aim is to find out if a pre-industrial concept is ready for further technology development.
2.3 Transforming energy access in developing countries
DFID encourages proposals that have potential to transform energy access in developing countries. This could include localised energy systems, for example. These may be able to operate where the grid is unbalanced, unreliable or unavailable. Proposals like this may be relevant to Sub-Saharan Africa and South-Asian countries.
We encourage applications that include partners from developing countries. You can use this DFID funding to support projects in these countries.
2.4 Examples of technology areas within scope
Examples of technology areas within scope of this competition include but are not limited to:
- carbon abatement: minimising environmental impact of fossil fuels and associated applications to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. Includes carbon capture, transport, utilisation and storage for large-scale power and industrial CO2 emitters
- renewable energy: wind, wave, tidal, solar (pv, thermal and concentrated), biomass, geothermal, heat pumps, energy from waste
- nuclear fission: front-end fuel cycle, plant construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance. Also includes waste management and decommissioning
- hydrogen and fuel cells: hydrogen production, transport and storage. Fuel cells for stationary and other applications (such as portable power). This excludes technology development focused solely or mainly on transport propulsion applications
- energy networks and system integration: electricity and heat networks. Technologies for energy transmission, distribution and storage and the integration of systems to deploy low carbon energy. Includes smart grids, power electronics, storage technologies and waste heat
- demand-side technologies: technology development to reduce and/or manage energy demand at scale. Includes energy efficiency measures for the end user including industrial energy efficiency
- enabling technologies and processes: includes ICT, high value manufacturing, robotics, advanced materials, sensors, control systems, virtual technologies, modeling and simulation
- open theme: technologies where applicants are confident they meet the scope but which are not covered by the categories above, for instance energy harvesting
Find out more about these technology challenge areas in the technology innovation needs assessments. This is produced by the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group.
Find out more about the scope of this competition in the guidance for applicants
3. Find out if you are eligible to apply
- you can lead a proposal if you are either:
- an SME acting on your own or working with any other with any type of organisation
- a research organisation collaborating with a business
- your project can last up to one year
- the total cost of your project can be up to £300,000
- the total non-business-partner costs must not exceed 50% of the total project costs
- business partner funding can be up to 70% of their total project costs for small or micro SMEs, 60% for medium SMEs or 50% for larger companies
To find out more about round 4 of the Energy Catalyst you can watch an online applicant briefing. This includes information on the scope, funding and application process.
You can find out about Energy Catalyst brokerage events on the KTN’s Energy Catalyst website:
- Presentations from Round 4 Brokerage Event, London, 9th December 2015
- Presentations from Round 4 Brokerage Event, Edinburgh, 28th January 2016
- Brokerage Event to link innovators to developing country experts, London, 4th July 2016
4. Competition dates
- the deadline for registration is noon on 7 September 2016
- the competition closes at noon on 14 September 2016
5. How to apply
This competition is now open. It follows a single-stage application process.
Find out more about this competition in the guidance for applicants
Call our support team on 0300 321 4357 if you have any questions.