Guidance

Ayrton Fund

The Ayrton Fund supports clean energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) to accelerate the clean energy transition in developing countries.

Overview

The UK government has committed up to £1 billion through the Ayrton Fund to support clean energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) between April 2021 and March 2026. This is part of the wider UK commitment to tackle climate change and spend £11.6 billion of International Climate Finance (ICF) over the same period.

The Ayrton Fund aims to accelerate the clean energy transition in developing countries, by creating and demonstrating innovative clean energy technologies and business models. It will demonstrate UK leadership and expertise in cutting global emissions through world-leading innovations.

It seeks to make clean energy options the most affordable, accessible and attractive options in developing countries. This supports Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG13 (Climate Action). It also supports the ambitions of important initiatives such as the COP26 Glasgow Breakthroughs and Green Grids Initiative.

Specifically, it supports RD&D around 3 themes:

  • lower-cost, flexible clean energy supplies suited to the resources of developing countries
  • super-efficient demand via innovative services, processes and equipment meeting the needs of poor consumers and enterprises
  • smart delivery systems and resources to manage variable clean energy and reduce the costs of delivering reliable clean energy

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) jointly manage the Ayrton Fund. They do this through a portfolio of ongoing, new, and scaled-up clean energy platforms and programmes, including thematic challenge programmes, and country and regional demonstrators. Ayrton thematic challenges target technology priorities that are important for the achievement of SDG7 and SDG13, including:

  • next generation solar
  • sustainable cooling for all
  • modern cooking
  • efficient appliances
  • industrial decarbonisation
  • smart energy systems
  • energy storage
  • hydrogen
  • critical minerals
  • inclusive energy and leave no-one behind

Kenyan Green Mini-Grid (credit: Powerhive)

Ayrton platforms and programmes

In its first year, the Ayrton Fund supported 16 clean energy RD&D platforms and programmes. These include:

Transforming Energy Access (TEA)

This FCDO research and innovation platform supports early-stage testing and scale-up of innovative technologies and business models that accelerate access to affordable, clean energy. It aims to help poor households, enterprises, and social institutions in developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the Indo-Pacific.

Climate Compatible Growth (CCG)

This FCDO research and innovation platform develops evidence and global public goods to help countries develop and implement economic strategies and plans. It also works on policies to attract investment into low-carbon growth opportunities across various sectors, including grid-scale energy and transport.

Clean Energy Innovation Facility (CEIF)

This BEIS innovation programme aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies in developing countries in key themes. These technologies include industrial decarbonisation, sustainable cooling, smart energy, and energy storage.

An expansion to the existing Facility will focus on clean hydrogen, critical minerals and cross-cutting themes key to clean energy transitions in developing countries. These cross-cutting themes are clean transport, energy efficiency, industrial decarbonisation, sustainable cooling, smart energy, and energy storage. Further details will be added in due course.

Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

This BEIS research and innovation Fund supports UK and international researchers and innovators to address important issues affecting developing countries, including access to clean energy. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) run GCRF Ayrton Fund activities.

Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS)

This FCDO research and innovation programme develops clean cooking research products. Through a consortium of world-leading UK universities and innovators, it aims to support the transition from biomass to genuinely clean cooking fuels in developing countries.

Low Energy Inclusive Appliances (LEIA)

This FCDO research and innovation programme focuses on improving the efficiency, performance, and availability of electrical appliances and solar technologies for off-grid and weak-grid settings. At the same time, it aims to lower their cost for consumers, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Indo-Pacific.

UN Global Climate Action Award to the Energise Africa crowdfunding platform in 2021 (credit: Transforming Energy Access programme)

Further information about the Fund

Access to funding

The Ayrton Fund combines and co-ordinates a range of funding platforms and programmes targeting different RD&D needs. Through them, it supports the clean energy transition in developing countries.

You may access Ayrton Fund support through one of the funded platforms or programmes. These include those listed on this page, and (where applicable) their calls for proposals and funding windows. However, not all programmes will include a direct route to access funding.

You can keep up to date on calls for proposals and opportunities for engagement on the relevant programme websites and social media. You can also follow the Ayrton Fund Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, operated by the Transforming Energy Access (TEA) programme.

Government departments

The Ayrton Fund is a cross-government collaboration led by 2 departments. Find out more information on the wider work of each of these departments:

Micro-irrigation system powered by solar water pumps (credit: Low Energy Inclusive Appliances programme)

Contact details

For further details about the Ayrton Fund, get in touch by email: AyrtonFund@fcdo.gov.uk.

You can also sign up to the Ayrton Fund e-newsletter and receive news, updates, and events information by emailing AyrtonFund@fcdo.gov.uk with the subject ‘Newsletter’.

Published 11 November 2022