Submission from East of England Development
On behalf of EEDA and its partners, thank you
for the opportunity to contribute to the Science & Technology
Committee Inquiry into renewable energy generation technologies.
The Renewables Industry is of particular importance to the East
of England, where we have significant regional strengths in terms
of investment, natural resources and world-class research &
development capabilities focussed directly at developing this
industry in the wider context of regional economic development.
Please find below our contribution to the four
key areas of your Inquiry.
1. Evidence of the current actions taken by
EEDA and its partners in relation to R&D and deployment of
renewable energy generation technologies
1.1 Offshore wind, wave and tidal:
£9.5 million capital funding
for the OrbisEnergy innovation and incubation centre to provide
a global centre of excellence for offshore renewables.
Revenue funding into Renewables East
"Championing Offshore Renewables" programme to encourage
early stage development into new and established offshore wind,
wave and tidal deployment, including:
Supply chain development;
Business support networking;
Industry Liaison & Promotion.
EEDA proof of concept R&D £200k
capital grant to Trident Energy for wave generation.
The Centre for Integrated Photonics
is a regionally recognised EEDA funded asset with expertise in
converting electronic pulses into light through highly efficient
conductors. The key to further transfer of their expertise lies
in achieving the reverse process of light into electronic pulse.
The DTI LCBP Phase 2 Grant Scheme
has allocated £17 million of its £48 million budget.
This includes a unique collaboration between Renewables East and
Essex County Council to develop the supply chain and increase
uptake of renewables, which has led to a £1 million fund
being allocated by Essex CC to install PV in schools. A further
allocation is now being considered for business networking and
1.3 Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies:
EEDA has been actively engaging regional
universities that have complementary skills and expertise including
Cranfield University and UEA.
BioREGen is an East of England project
funded through DEFRA's BREW programme that focuses on encouraging
the deployment of technology to allow the UK to better understand
technologies such as Anaerobic Digestion and so access a new fuel
supply chain, thus enabling further development of UK intellectual
property. Work ongoing in the region has focused on:
Studies in deploying Anaerobic Digestion
Business support for potential projects.
Gasification trials with new feedstock.
Knowledge transfer with Guidance
The formation of the British BioAlcohols
Group has brought together the Institute of Food Research, John
Innes Centre and University of East Anglia to look at research
into alcohol production from "whole" crops. Linking
into this work is a "field to wheels" program with the
automotive sector (Lotus) and research work into the use of biodiesel
or rape oil for heating systems.
£40k funding for Epicam for
a system to recover waste heat from internal combustion engines
and turn it back into usable engine power.
£70k funding for AxelChoice
to assemble, install and demo an exhaust energy regeneration system.
£200k funding for Camcon to
design, build and test an intelligent valve system which reduces
typical petrol engine CO2 emissions by 18%.
1.5 Ground source heat pumps:
The DTI LCBP Phase 2 Grant Scheme
has an allocation for heat pumps. Funding from Essex County Council
has been secured for a Support Manager to develop the supply chain,
increase the uptake of renewables, business networking and improving
awareness of renewables including heat pumps.
£33k proof of concept funding
for Wind Technologies Ltd to patent and produce a small-scale
onshore winds generator.
£40k funding for Select Innovations
Ltd to commercialise an innovative power supply solution for discharge
£55k for Ashe Morris to develop
a heat exchanger for use in the chemical industry.
£72k for Thermofluidics to take
to market a heat-powered pump system for electricity-free water
circulation in both building and irrigation contexts.
2. The feasibility costs, timescales and progress
in commercialising renewable technologies as well as their reliability
and associated carbon footprints
2.1 EEDA has developed and funds a number
of related and closely working partners, focussing on Renewable
Energy, Sustainable Engineering and Innovation. Key partners such
as Centre for Sustainable Energy, Renewables East and other innovation
centres (ie St Johns) look to pass on network and learning opportunities
for evolving technology commercialisation opportunities.
2.2 In addition EEDA provides direct funding
into businesses for energy and environmental commercialisation
through R&D capital grants (5-10% of £5.5 million) and
proof of concept grants (10-15% of £2 million).
2.3 The Region has developed a number of
"general" approaches to financing feasibility and commercialisation
activity and the partner organisations EEDA has set up are effective
at ensuring these are known to inventors and developers. There
is also an increasing level of private investment interest in
the sector and the Low Carbon Accelerator has been set up by a
regionally based consortium, contributing around £90 million
in its first year.
2.4 This is complicated by the variety of
different market opportunities and risk approaches inventors and
developers exhibit. The smaller-scale opportunities and ones with
return less in line with commercial / market focused returns will
not get support from national programmes such as Carbon Trust
and yet may be too large for regional R&D funds. A revolving
fund, to address the intermediate stage is about to be piloted
in the Region.
3. The government's role in funding R&D
and incentivising technology transfer
3.1 The approach of Central Government to
this type of funding for research and development is sometimes
perceived as fractured, with organisations such as the RDAs, Carbon
Trust, The Technology Strategy Board and Environment Agency all
offering differing (but sometimes overlapping) opportunities.
This presents a relatively confusing and complicated system for
businesses and Universities who would like to engage together
in applying for funding and collaborating on projects.
3.2 There are as a consequence some areas
which appear to fall outside the remit or capacity of the existing
funding organisations and schemes, including:
Funding for research into developing
smaller scale project for energy recovery (electricity, heat and
transport fuels) from UK waste with the outputs being used locally.
Development of demonstration plants
for various technologies.
Funding for Biofuels research and
its use within the transport sector. BBAG has applied for funding
from different programmesthere needs to be better synergy
between these programmes (medium term research vs shorter term
4. Other possible technologies for renewable
4.1 We would advise consideration of the
following two possibilities:
Biomethane can be produced from UK
organic waste residues or from grown crops (through better use
of available land). It could be developed as a transport fuel
following a programme of deploying LNG/CNG and encouraging vehicles
to use the fuel.
Methane fuel cells for transport
or power production.
5. Concluding remarks
5.1 As you can see from the evidence supplied
above, the East of England is a vibrant and burgeoning centre
for the development of the "renewables" sectorwith
valuable natural resources, both in the region and off shore.
There is also considerable opportunity to build "renewables"
into the supply chain companies already resident in the region.
5.2 The Regional Development Agency is contributing
to a variety of key actions aimed at regional economic development
as well as providing leadership in the development of renaissance
projects with sustainable credentials. In addition, with the increasing
need for affordable housing in the region, we are working with
the Buildings Research Establishment to develop workable solutions
to the dilemma of cost versus sustainable construction.
5.3 The private sector is also active in
the region with the following projects:
British Sugar have opened a Bioethanol
plant at their Wissington site in Cambridgeshire. This project
won the Project Award at the recent British Renewable Energy Association
Morrisons, the supermarket chain,
have introduced biofuels to their petrol stations in and around
Norwich (as a result of discussions with Renewables East).
Lotusthe racing car company
based at Hethel, near Norwich, are currently developing a lightweight
electric racing car.
5.4 Finally, the Region has engaged with
the Skills for Business network to identify a range of skills
gaps and mismatches in both the renewables and related industries
and is working with its Skills & Competitiveness Partnership
to develop ways in which the region can respond to the increasing
demands of the industry on a limited labour pool.
5.5 Should you have any further questions,
or require more information on any of the above evidence, please
do not hesitate to contact my office. I look forward to hearing
more about the outcomes of this enquiry.