The philosopher, Kierkegaard declared:
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
In energy this is particularly pertinent: How can we plan for an unknown future, especially given the uncertainties of a complex socio-techno-economic system, and the pace of change of new technology?
At Innovate UK, it’s our job to think about the future – that is what innovation is all about.
Energy trilemma presents great business opportunities
The energy strategy we have followed in the last 5 years has been based around the assertion that the ‘energy trilemma’ presents great business opportunities.
The future innovations that will enable UK companies to grow fast will contribute to energy provision that is all of the following:
- low carbon
Innovation that can help achieve this will be in prime position to access growing global markets as nations seek to decarbonise their economies over the coming decades.
Getting new ideas off the ground
There will be a large and growing global market for the best solutions as economies across the globe decarbonise.
Change is needed and is happening now, but a lack of private finance in early stages of development of new energy technologies means public sector intervention is often needed to get new ideas off the ground.
While getting new ideas going is a crucial step on the innovation journey, what we really want to do is get them to commercial reality, housed in growing UK businesses. For that, follow-on private investment is needed.
This is why we’re partnering with DECC to host an innovation showcase event at All Energy in Glasgow on 4th May, to help businesses we have funded meet new partners and financers that can help them take their innovations to market.
How Innovate UK helps
We interpret the triple energy challenge to focus effort in the areas of most potential. Our strategy articulates this as opportunities in:
- Affordable, low carbon energy generation
- Emissions reduction at point of use
- Integration of solutions into flexible, secure energy systems of the future
We have acted on this by funding and connecting businesses that are seeking to solve these challenges, helping hundreds of businesses with novel solutions to develop their innovation and find expertise, partners and follow-on finance.
Catapult centres accelerate innovation to market
Catapult centres are designed to provide unique expertise and critical facilities that businesses need to develop their new products. Two exist in the energy space:
However, many of the other Catapult centres also provide services relevant to companies in energy, for example in:
- high value manufacturing
- digital systems
- future cities
- transport systems
- satellite applications.
The Catapult expertise and facilities work in partnership with our funding to accelerate innovation to market.
And the future?
Abraham Lincoln was perhaps more practical as a guide to dealing with future uncertainty when he said that:
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
That’s what Innovate UK and DECC are helping to do by enabling UK businesses to get their ground-breaking ideas off the ground, and to find their route to future markets aiming to create energy systems fit for the future.
For example, in Glasgow, you can hear from:
- Kite Power Solutions, who are developing a kite-based wind power system that has the potential to slash the cost of energy from wind
- Origen Power, who are developing fuel cell systems that produce power & heat in your home or business while removing CO2 from the atmosphere
- Recycling Technologies Ltd, who plan to turn mixed plastic waste into a fuel usable in a variety of applications
- Upside Energy, whose plan for virtual power plants will provide critical balancing services to the grid and offset the need for new infrastructure
I look forward to seeing you there!
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