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53 new projects to be given support from the Strategic Innovation Fund

53 ideas focused on transforming the UK’s future energy system have been awarding funding for further development by the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).

The SIF was set up as a partnership between the energy regulator Ofgem and Innovate UK in 2021 as a mechanism for the gas and electricity sectors  to ‘find and fund ambitious, innovative projects with the potential to accelerate the transition to net zero.’ 

woman in white long sleeve shirt using black laptop computer

The latest announcement of funding is as a result of the SIF’s second call for applications which went out in Spring of last year. The call specifically asked for ideas which covered one of four categories:

  • Supporting a just energy transition
  • Preparing for a net zero power system
  • Improving energy system resilience and robustness
  • Accelerating decarbonisation of major energy demands

The 53 projects – all currently in the concept stage – will receive up to £150,000 so they can be taken further (the discovery phase) and their feasibility properly assessed. After three months those felt to have the greatest potential will receive further funding of up to £500,000 for another six months of development (the alpha phase). The third phase will be a competition between the remaining projects for further funding to turn their concepts into prototypes (the beta phase). 

The 53 concepts have had to meet eight criteria to be eligible for funding, including that they be ‘innovative, novel and/or risky’ and that they have a ‘clearly identified potential to deliver a net benefit to gas or electricity consumers.’

Ideas that are being funded include research into the possibility of deploying high-capacity, superconducting overhead lines in the UK and whether hydrogen production costs could be cut by using wastewater rather than pure water.

Mike Biddle, Executive Director for Net Zero at Innovate UK, said: ‘Our vision is for the UK to prosper from being the economy that transitions fastest to net zero. We’re delighted to be working closely with Ofgem and the energy sector on the Strategic Innovation Fund, and to see a new cohort of innovative projects coming through that will help drive the decarbonisation of our energy networks.’

Matt Hastings, Deputy Director of the Ofgem SIF programme at Innovate UK, said: ‘As projects from our last year’s challenges move closer towards their demonstration phase, and real-world deployment, we’re kicking off the next batch of Discovery projects in parallel.

‘Discovery is all about urgent learning and taking risks; we expect a degree of failure. This ensures that only the best ideas make it through to the next phases, with the amount of projects reducing as the level of consumer investment in SIF projects increases.’

image: ThisisEngineering 

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