Government innovation spending could help deliver a world-leading energy system if £500 million of allocated funds is ‘correctly targeted’, according to a low-carbon trade association.
The report by Scottish Renewables identified six key innovation areas, and called on the UK Government to work with industry to help guide investment to deliver a low-carbon, low-cost energy sector. A spokesman said:
“The UK Government’s commitment to double the spend on energy innovation to £500 million over five years has the potential to drive dramatic advances in our energy system.
“This new paper highlights the importance of the strategic allocation of these funds, and identifies six technology areas that have real potential to benefit from this funding, propelling British business to the forefront of a truly world-leading, next-generation energy system.”
The organisation – which wants half of all energy used in Scotland to come from renewables by 2030 – published the new report to examine the future of energy system across electricity, heat and transport. The priority areas identified are:
Wave and Tidal energy – in which the UK already leads the world, with facilities like the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney providing cutting-edge test opportunities;
Storage technologies – which can enable increased renewables capacity (by storing electricity at times of low demand) and provide a multitude of services to the management of our electricity system, as well as empowering communities and consumers;
Floating offshore wind – which could open huge areas of the world’s deepest oceans to green energy generation. The first such platform is already planned for offshore Grampian and the UK is eyeing a global lead already: funds invested on innovation could cement that advantage; See also
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Low-carbon heat – which accounts for 46% of UK energy demand, but of which only 4.9% was renewable in 2014. Decarbonising the sector will mean fully developing new technologies, supporting their large-scale deployment and integrating them into our wider energy system.
Systems integration – thinking about our heat, transport and electricity sectors as one system will allow us to be ‘smarter’ in the way we use power and drive efficiencies, increase security and reduce costs;
Flexible networks – could, according to the Committee on Climate Change, help save consumers up to £3.5 billion per year. Securing the technology to deliver what the CCC call “a more flexible power system” will require a range of technologies such as Active Network Management, demand-side response, storage and increased interconnection, all of which are yet to be fully developed.
The spokesman added: “Scotland’s renewable energy industry has come a long way since the first hydropower and wind projects of the last century.
“We welcome the Chancellor’s recent commitment to continue this by doubling DECC’s innovation programme budget. We believe developing an energy innovation strategy to guide this investment would get the most out of every pound spent.
“Our world lead in tidal power technology, for example, owes much to the continued development of onshore wind, with technology for the former deriving from decades of study into the latter.
“New technologies like wave energy and storage have the potential to revolutionise the way we produce energy.”