Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Question 1: "You said you spend around
£9 million a year on low and non-carbon energy technology
research. In addition, how much of your spending on blue-skies
research may have energy applications? The Committee appreciates
the difficulties involved but would value an estimate. Some examples
of the kinds of research that fall into this category would be
The data requested is provided in Tables 1 and
2 below, but first it is necessary to provide some contextual
information to enable the nature of the data to be appreciated.
EPSRC's evidence to the Committee for this inquiry
was formulated using a key word search of our current grants database.
The figures for grants expenditure quoted in our evidence represent
our best estimate of the research grants which are directly relevant
to the scope of the inquiry. However, the nature of our research
portfolio is such that there is also a relatively large number
of additional research grants which, while perhaps "blue
skies" in nature, are potentially relevant to low or zero-carbon
EPSRC considers "blue-skies" research
to be a pivotal part of the portfolio if we are to fulfil our
mission "to promote and support high-quality basic, strategic
and applied research" in engineering and the physical sciences.
The "blue skies" elements of research comprise technologies
that, although having no immediate commercial outlet, may prove
to be revolutionary. Blue skies research may therefore be described
as basic research.
Basic research is experimental or theoretical
work undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge of the underlying
foundation of phenomena and observable facts, without any particular
application or use in view.
Experimental development is systematic
work, drawing on existing knowledge gained from research and/or
practical experience that is directed to producing new materials,
products or devices, to installing new processes, systems and
services, or to improving substantially those already produced
The majority of the grants identified by EPSRC
in our original evidence to the inquiry would be considered to
be in the experimental development category under these definitions.
However, in some fields of renewable research such as photovoltaics,
fuel cells or hydrogen storage, there is more scope to undertake
science-based, basic research. In order to answer the question
posed by the Committee, it is necessary to identify those research
activities that fall into the basic research category where the
relevance to energy research is perhaps secondary or indirect.
These areas of research may include underpinning research in physics,
chemistry or materials science.
In attempting to estimate the value of our investment
in blues skies research relevant to energy, we have adopted the
approach of identifying those areas of research that appear most
likely to be exploited in the energy field. All EPSRC research
grants are classified under one or more of approximately 150 research
topics that are based broadly on areas of scientific or engineering
endeavour. We have identified 11 research topics that appear to
have a direct relevance to energy research that are listed in
Table 2. We have also identified a further seven research topics
which have indirect relevance to energy research that are listed
in Table 3. Using the research topics in Tables 2 and 3, it is
possible to present two estimates of EPSRC's current investment
in blue skies research with possible energy applications. The
first estimate, which is based on those research topics that we
feel are highly relevant to energy research (Table 2) may contain
some research grants that are of only peripheral relevance to
the scope of the inquiry. The second estimate, which is based
on the research topics we have identified as bring of both direct
and indirect relevance to energy research (Tables 2 and 3), is
likely to include research grants which have limited or no relevance
to the scope of the inquiry, at least at this stage of the development
ESTIMATE OF BLUE SKIES RESEARCH WITH POSSIBLE
ENERGY APPLICATIONS AND THE RESULTING EXPENDITURE IN 2002-03
|Basis of Estimate||Value of Grant Portfolio
||Grant Expenditure in 2002-03
|Directly relevant research topics
|Directly and indirectly relevant research topics|
(Tables 2 and 3)
RESEARCH TOPICS WITH DIRECT RELEVANCE TO ENERGY RESEARCH
||Current Grants (Number)
||Current Grants (Value)
|Coal Technology||The handling, characteristics and properties of coal, including liquefaction, gasification and pyrolysis for power generation.
|Combustion||Mechanisms in combustion processes and fossil fuel combustion for power generation using liquid and gaseous fuels.
|Electrical Motors and Drives||The design, manufacture and operation of electromechanical systems, devices, drives and controls for rotating machines.
|Electricity Generation, Renewable||All forms of renewable power generation, including the design and development of technologies associated with renewables.
|Electricity Generation, Conventional||Power plant and power generation by fossil fuels including monitoring, design and operation.
|Electricity Generation, Nuclear||Research into the operation and plant for nuclear fission power generation including materials studies and waste treatment.
|Electrochemistry and Electrochemical Engineering
||Includes fuel cell development and research including chemical reactions of anions, cations and electrolytes.
|Electromagnetics||Electromagnetism and electromagnetic interactions in materials and devices including electromagnetic compatibility
|Power Electronics||The fabrication and engineering of circuits for high power or high voltage applications
|Power Systems: Management, Operation and Control
||The control, protection and monitoring of transmission and distribution systems.
|Power Systems: Plant||The design and development of new and existing plant for electricity transmission, distribution and storage.
EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH TOPICS WITH SECONDARY OR INDIRECT
RELEVANCE TO ENERGY RESEARCH
||Current Grants (Number)
||Current Grants (Value)
|Aerodynamics||The study of airflow around structures or components including studies into gas turbines, blades, compressors etc.
|Catalysis and Applied Catalysis||Understanding the mechanisms involved in catalytic reactions, preparation of new or improved catalysts or catalytic processes.
|Electronic Debices and Subsystems||New and improved electronic devices and circuits including their design, modelling, fabrication and processing
|Functional Ceramic and Inorganic Materials
||Includes the synthesis and growth, characterisation and processing of such materials including glasses, ionic materials, electro-ceramics and zeolites.
|Functional Organic and Polymer Materials
||Includes the synthesis and growth, characterisation and processing of such materials including dyes, liquid crystals, ferro-electric and dielectric polymer materials.
|Inorganic Semiconductor Materials||Includes the synthesis and growth, characterisation and processing of III-V, II-VI and Group IV semiconductor materials.
|Optoelectronic Devices and Circuits||Semiconductor-based devices including solid-state lasers, LEDs, quantum dots, wires and wells
Question 2: How much of your research funding for renewables
is through responsive mode and how much is through managed?
First we note that across the whole of EPSRC's remit some
62% of research funding is via pure responsive mode, with the
remainder through more closely directed or "managed"
programmes. In this particular area there is, consciously, a greater
emphasis placed on the directed/managed mode.
The breakdown of the grant funding presented in our original
evidence in terms of the percentage of those grants that were
funded in the responsive and managed modes is at Table 4.
BREAKDOWN OF GRANTS FUNDED IN THE RESPONSIVE AND MANAGED
MODES IN THE INITIAL EVIDENCE PROVIDED
|Wave and Tidal||73.8
Overall, current grants as at December 2002 in renewables
are supported through 69% Managed mode and 31% Responsive mode.
Question 3: "What is the application success rate
for managed and the responsive mode in the last financial year
for renewable energy research for each of the main EPSRC Programmes?"
An analysis of the success rates of grants classified under
the renewable energy research topic, subdivided by EPSRC Programme
area, is at Table 5. The success rates shown compare very favourably
with the EPSRC average success rates for the same period, suggesting
that renewable energy projects compete very effectively in the
responsive mode. The Programme areas listed were the only Programmes
that considered proposals classified under this research topic
in the period concerned.
SUCCESS RATES OF GRANTS CLASSIFIED UNDER THE RENEWABLE
ENERGY RESEARCH TOPIC
|Programme Area||Responsive Mode
||Not funded||Success rate (%)
||Success rate (%)
|Infrastructure and Environment||1
|Information and Communications Technology
Question 4: "Can you supply a full list of companies
involved in EPSRC's renewable energy projects?"
EPSRC can provide the following list of industrial stakeholders
involved with current grants in renewable energy (Table 6). These
companies provide cash and/or in-kind contributions in support
of the EPSRC-funded research.
LIST OF INDUSTRIAL STAKEHOLDERS INVOLVED WITH CURRENT
GRANTS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY
|A M P of Great Britain Ltd||Intersolar Group Plc
|Alstom Energy Technology CEN||Inveresk Plc
|Antec Gmbh||Ipsa Power Engineering
|ARUP Consulting Engineers||J L S Designs Ltd
|Atkins,W S,Plc||Johnson Matthey plc
|Avecia HQ||Kier Construction Ltd
|B D S P Partnership||Leicester City Council
|B P Solar Ltd||Local Government Association
|B9 Energy Ltd||Mandix
|BG Technology plc||Marconi Applied Technology
|BMW Group||Marine Current Turbines Ltd
|BOC Ltd||Milbury Systems
|Border Wind Ltd||Ministry of Defence
|BP||Mitsui Babcock Energy Services (Overseas)
|British Biogen Ltd||National Grid Company
|BTGBiomass Technology Group||National Power
|C J Day Associates||National Wind Power Ltd
|Cambridge Display Technology Ltd||NEG Micon
|Conoco (UK) Ltd||NEG Micon (UK) Ltd
|DeltaDOT Ltd||Northern Ireland Electricity
|Dera Malvern||Nottinghamshire County Council
|E A Technology Ltd||Polybiomed Ltd
|East Midlands Electricity Ltd||Powergen U K Plc
|East of Scotland Water||Rolls Royce plc
|Edinburgh Designs||Rural Generation Ltd
|EEV Ltd||RVco Ltd|
|Energy Power Resources Ltd||Scottish Power Plc
|Energy Saving Trust Ltd (The)||Scottish Power Technology
|Epichem Ltd||Sheffield Heat & Power Ltd
|ETSU (Oxford)||Shropshire County Council
|Fumatech||Sollatek (U K) Ltd
|Garrad Hassan & Partners Ltd||Solvay SA
|Greater London Authority||Technical UniversityDenmark
|I T Power Ltd||Thales Space Technology
|ICI C+P Ltd||UK Energy From Waste Assoc
|Improvement & Development Agency for Loc
||Unit Energy Ltd|
|InforSense Ltd||University of California
|InfumaTech||Wafer Technology Ltd
|Innogy plc||Wellman Process Engineering
|Innogy Technology Ventures Ltd||Whitby Bird and Partners
Question 5: "Can you supply the number of PhD and
MScs funded in renewable energy for the last financial year"
The major mechanism that EPSRC uses to support PhD training
in Universities is the Doctoral Training Account (DTA). DTAs are
a cash award to research-active University Department calculated
on the basis of their current EPSRC research grant income. The
departments concerned have considerable flexibility to select
the subject of the research of the students supported by the DTA.
Universities are required to submit an annual statement on the
students supported through their DTA at the end of each Calendar
year including a report on the students that have started in the
past academic year. The reports for the October 2001-September
2002 academic year have yet to be collated and as a result, our
information on new studentships supported in the last financial
year (April 2001-March 2002) is largely incomplete. Complete information
can be provided at a later date if still required.
We have provided supplementary information on the postgraduate
students employed on the renewable energy grants identified in
the evidence. These studentships are in addition to those quoted
in the evidence that were funded through our PhD quota system.
The figures for the number of PhD studentships supported by EPSRC
in renewable energy research is at Table 7.
NUMBER OF PHD STUDENTSHIPS SUPPORTED BY EPSRC IN RENEWABLE
EPSRC considers that there is considerable scope to increase
training provision in this area as part of a wider activity to
strengthen the research base as proposed under the "Towards
a Sustainable Energy Economy" SR2002 bid and the proposed
development of the National Energy Research Centre. EPSRC will
be conducting a review of education and training support in the
next few months as part of the development of our energy research
and training portfolio.