Helping the UK’s most exciting clean energy innovators thrive in the future system - Guy Newey

Comment by Guy Newey, Chief Executive Officer at Energy Systems Catapult. 

The last few years have been rough. First COVID-19 brought us to a standstill, then the global energy crisis wrought havoc on businesses and consumers alike. Yet, despite all of this, the UK’s clean energy innovators such as AMP-X, GridDuck, Demand Logic, Voltempo, and SMPnet Ltd, have continued to reimagine how we get to Net Zero.

In just 12 months, SMEs that have worked with the Catapult raised a total of £110 million in investment. This brings the total amount raised by companies in our ‘stable’ since 2018 to £350 million. Products, services, and technologies that were just early concepts a few years ago are now delivering decarbonisation efforts across the country (and, in some cases, across the world).

This year has seen the Catapult help innovators – small and large – thrive in areas where we think there are the greatest innovation needs and where our 260-strong team can make the biggest difference: in decarbonising our homes and commercial buildings; in helping local authorities navigate their way to capturing clean energy investment; and ensuring the future digitalised, flexible energy system is resilient and works for consumers.

In addition to our work with innovators, here is just a sample of what we’ve been up to in helping create the future energy system:

  • Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) continues to play an essential role in the decarbonisation of local places. Over 30% of local authorities now have – or are working towards – a LAEP. Welsh Government incorporated LAEP into its national planning policy paving the way for all 22 local authorities in Wales to get a LAEP, whilst Belfast City became the first local authority in Northern Ireland to conduct a LAEP. Putting LAEP into action, the City of York is progressing sites identified in their LAEP to feasibility stage, while Salford’s first solar farm has just been switched on, as part of the Unlocking Clean Energy Greater Manchester project.
  • Our modelling team worked with Nick Winser CBE, the Electricity Networks Commissioner, to produce a detailed companion report to support the 18 recommendations made to halve the delivery time of critical network infrastructure. The recommendations were accepted in full by UK government.
  • Digital technologies are shaping government policy, with the recommendations of the Energy Digitalisation Taskforce being picked up by government for the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan, the Digital Spine Feasibility Study, and Automatic Asset Registration. We’ve also launched the Artificial Intelligence for Decarbonisation’s Virtual Centre of Excellence (ADViCE) initiative in partnership with the Digital Catapult and the Alan Turing Institute to promote coordination and collaboration between AI innovators and leading businesses within the UK’s carbon-emitting sectors.
  • The independent review of our Warm Home Prescription service was published: ‘Positive outcomes were reported for WHP patients, particularly thermal comfort in their homes and their wellbeing. There is also emerging evidence that WHP patients had a reduced demand for primary care services this winter compared to what may otherwise be expected.’ Other organisations are also now creating and delivering Warm Home Prescription projects, and over 200 people have joined the Catapult’s Community of Practice.
  • Our work on decarbonising complex sites has continued with the InSite programme, with over 70 NHS trusts signing up to provide access to their energy and other data, and the completion of 13 whole-system energy transition plans for complex sites helping the site owners take immediate action on progressing the energy transition. We also launched the Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance to help public sector bodies and their decarbonisation partners understand the best route to Net Zero.

We’re in the business of accelerating Net Zero energy innovation. It won’t be easy, and collaboration will be essential. If you have a big, bold idea to transform the sector – we are here to help you translate those ideas into commercial success.

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