With the industry consultation process almost complete, the Technology Strategy Board’s Energy Systems Catapult is set for launch in April 2015.
This newest UK Catapult Centre will form part of a network of technology and innovation centres aiming to bridge the gap between businesses, academic, research and government, leveraging long-term investment to transform the UK’s ability to create new product and services. The creation of all the centres – which receive £10m a year from government and are expected to match fund with industry funding - represents an investment of £1bn.
As with all Catapults, the Energy Systems centre will aim to develop a network of specialist companies (from SMEs to tier one companies) capable of operating internationally, invest in high-value capital equipment/facilities/infrastructure beyond the affordability of individual companies, and serve as an independent repository of specialist knowledge. With the focus on technical challenges, the new Catapult will undertake world-class research, engage in collaborative R&D projects and undertake industry-funded research.
The scope of the Energy Systems Catapult will cover the heat, gas and electricity networks, incorporating:
- · System design
- · Interoperability
- · Communications and data analytics integration
- · Digital platforms
- · Machine to machine management systems
- · Demand response
- · Storage integration
- · Power electronics,
- · Controls
- · Decision making tools
- · Efficiency
Critically it won’t cover technology or systems associated with generation and end uses. This means that wind, wave and tidal power generation, CO2 systems, gas and oil production, lighting and buildings are not covered. On the end use side, PV, solar, heat pumps, fuel cells and electric vehicles are also excluded.
Where the Technology Strategy Board believe that the new Catapult can add value is by taking ownership of systems approach, joining up regulation and policy, championing open innovation systems for the energy sector and providing an incubator for emerging technologies and companies.
With a focus on translating industry needs and tackling sector fears/ challenges, the centre should be agile and serve as an honest broker for all parties engaged in the sector. While some centres have had a central location for all activities, the Energy Systems Catapult will be made up of a number of national hubs, each feeding in a particular capability or specialism.
The centre will join seven existing centres focused on:
- · High value manufacturing (partly based in Glasgow)
- · Cell therapy
- · Offshore renewable energy (based in Glasgow)
- · Satellite applications
- · Connected digital economy
- · Future cities
- · Transport systems
Within the energy systems area, new innovation could support exciting new developments in local level energy systems (e.g. community), storage, micro-grids, smart control of district heating, integration of decentralised and centralised load and supply, as well as local energy markets.
The Technology Strategy board has also identified key pools of existing academic expertise in UK universities including Imperial, Cardiff, Manchester, Nottingham and Strathclyde, and the Catapult will try to bring these institutions on board with its challenge to commercialise their research through partnership with industry. Links will also be formed with existing Catapults across the UK.
Business secretary Vince Cable said that the centres were a valuable institution for SMEs: "The total public and private sector investment in the Catapults so far is £1.4bn and further investment will follow. By committing to investment in new technologies now, we are laying the foundations for the high-growth businesses of the future. This will allow them to grow, take on more employees and keep the UK at the forefront of global innovation."
For more information on the new centre, visit: https://www.innovateuk.org/web/future-energy-systems/overview