FUTURE COLLABORATIVE RD&D ACTIVITIES
1. This annex sets out the Research Councils
proposals for future collaborative activities, including a National
Energy Research Centre.
2. BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, NERC, OST and DTI
Energy Directorate are currently collaborating in the development
of proposals for taking forward basic research to support renewable
energy technologies. This follows the Prime Minister's announcement
in 2001 of additional funding for research in this area following
the publication of the PIU report.
3. EPSRC is planning to work in partnership
with the Carbon Trust on a major joint R&D programme on low
carbon innovation. This programme will support research and development
to underpin tomorrow's low carbon technologies. NERC and ESRC
have expressed interest in participation.
SR2002 TOWARDS A
4. In the Government's 2000 Spending Review
(SR2000) NERC was given the responsibility of furthering cross-Research
Council collaboration in the area of technology for sustainability
and energy. As a result NERC took the lead in developing a joint
Research Council proposal, "Towards a sustainable energy
economy", for SR2002.
5. This proposal sets out a broad-based
programme of research including carbon management, nuclear energy,
renewable energy, energy markets and public acceptability, equity
and risk. In developing this initiative, inputs were sought from
a number of key players in energy RD&D including the DTI,
DEFRA, the Carbon Trust and the EU. It is intended that the programme
will draw on existing strengths, be highly collaborative, build
capacity and enable the UK to accelerate existing areas of research
and training. The overall aim of the programme is to enable the
UK to access a secure, safe, diverse and reliable energy supply
at a competitive price, while meeting the challenge of global
6. A key element of the proposal is the
establishment of an Energy Research Centre to bring together interdisciplinary
teams with expertise in the scientific, technological, social,
economic, environmental and health aspects of energy research.
It is intended that this centre would provide a national and possibly
international focus to integrate and accelerate research in this
priority area. The Councils hope that such a centre could act
as the hub of a national energy research network and bring together
all Government-funded energy RD&D in a "network of networks"
(including Departments, Agencies, the proposed Sustainable Energy
Policy Unit and the devolved administrations). In order to achieve
this aim, the national Centre would have to host its own major
research programme on aspects of the energy research agenda to
ensure its international status as a centre for RD&D. In addition
to or as part of its research activities, the centre should also
host expertise on energy markets, public perception/acceptability
issues and Government policy/regulation and to disseminate information
on these issues to the wider research community through the national
network. The centre itself could be virtual, based on a "hub
and spoke" model with the hub hosting the central coordinating
role of the Centre. The Centre will require leadership from an
individual that can command respect internationally and nationally
across Government, Industry and academe.
7. Discussions on the establishment and
role of a national Energy Research Centre are currently in progress.
Those involved in discussions include: the Director General of
the Research Councils (DGRC), the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA),
the Office of Science and Technology (OST), BBSRC, CCLRC, ESRC,
EPSRC, NERC, the Carbon Trust and the DTI, DfT and DEFRA. The
Councils believe that it should be possible to establish the Centre
as the hub of a national energy RD&D network and in its coordinating
role for Government Energy RD&D by May 2004.
SR2002 RURAL ECONOMY
8. ESRC are leading a cross-Research Council
SR2002 other RCs proposal designed to develop robust scenarios
for the rural environment, including sustainable land use management
options to help reduce risk and uncertainty and provide policy
tools for delivering healthy and sustainable rural economies.
Part of this initiative will address:
undertaking multi-disciplinary comparative
studies to investigate the sustainability of new farming systems,
including non-food crops (for biomaterials, biofuels, and biomass
for energy), as well as research on the potential for generating
new non-agricultural rural incomes;
developing more holistic methods
of environmental risk assessment for the impacts of new land use
patterns and identification of new and improved indicators of
ecosystem health to monitor progress towards sustainability; and
research into integrated rural planning
systems (which could potentially include issues such as those
surrounding the location of new energy plants in rural areas).