UK-based power sector technology innovation programme opens

28 November 2011

A four-year government-funded programme with the aim of developing new technologies to help meet the needs of the UK’s future power systems will start with investment of £2.4 million in feasibility studies designed to stimulate innovation in automated power distribution and demand management.

The competition is said to be just the first part of a planned portfolio of investment into power network innovations, forming the exploratory phase of the programme, which will be funded and managed by the Technology Strategy Board.

Commenting on the programme, Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “By 2050, there will be a complex mix of energy generating assets including everything from nuclear power stations to offshore wind turbines and solar cells on people’s houses. At the same time, demand for power will go up, and the power sector will need to manage new requirements, such as the electrification of heating systems and the incorporation of electric vehicles into the electricity system.

“In this complex future grid, the challenge will be to match demand and supply. The scope of this initial funding competition will, therefore, focus on real-time monitoring, control, analysis and the balancing of supply with demand.”

It is estimated that reinforcements to the power network, through increased automation of distribution and demand side participation – the ability of energy consumers to make decisions about the quantity and timing of their electricity supply – will save the UK £8bn by 2020.

These areas require the integration of information and communications technologies, electronics, photonics and electrical systems, advanced materials, industrial mathematics and nanoscale technologies.

The Smart Power Distribution and Demand competition for funding feasibility studies opens on 9 January 2012 and the deadline for submission of applications is 22 February 2012.
£25,000 of match funding will be available for short-term feasibility studies that present concepts for future innovative technologies, business and operational models with the potential to make a substantial contribution to the cost effective development of flexible, resilient, self-healing and secure future power networks. For more detailed feasibility studies, presenting opportunities to demonstrate innovation, up to £100,000 match funding will be available. Such proposals might feature novel individual technologies or demonstrate new integrated systems as well as operational and business models.

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