The energy landscape is changing rapidly and it is essential to invest in innovative projects that can help to reduce both energy bills and emissions. That's why the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) is so important.
Ofgem and Innovate UK have announced that 53 projects have received funding from the SIF, each receiving up to £150,000. These projects cover a range of innovative ideas that could have a significant impact on the energy system in the coming years.
What is SIF?
SIF, launched in 2021, provides funding to energy network companies working in partnership with innovators and partner organisations to develop concepts that will transform the energy system and support the UK's net-zero objectives.
What projects are SIF support?
In the latest round of project selections, 53 initiatives have been chosen for their potential to revolutionise the energy system in the upcoming years and benefit consumers with innovative ideas.
Some of the projects being explored include using electric vehicles to rapidly restore power to vulnerable people during power cuts, decarbonising entire terraced streets using an affordable smart local energy system, and using wind farms to restore the grid following a blackout, something not currently possible with fossil fuel generators.
One of the most significant challenges facing the energy system is how to integrate intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power into the grid. The SIF-funded projects explore new ideas such as large-scale battery storage, which will be needed to help balance the grid when renewable energy sources are not available.
The projects also look at ways to speed up connections of wind and solar power to the grid and improve the efficiency of green hydrogen production. They aim to make the most of existing energy infrastructure and support a just energy transition, helping consumers who may be disadvantaged, fuel-poor, living in vulnerable circumstances or off the gas grid reduce their heating and transport emissions.
What is the process?
The SIF projects have up to three months to further explore and develop their concepts, assess their potential, and prepare plans for future phases. They will then be assessed by a panel of SIF judges, and the projects judged to have the greatest potential will be awarded up to £500,000 for a further six-month proof of concept phase, starting in the summer. The remaining projects will compete for funding to demonstrate prototypes starting in early 2024.
The projects that ultimately are commercially developed could start to be rolled out operationally into energy networks in the mid to late 2020s. These innovative concepts will help to transform the energy system and play an important part in helping the UK achieve a cleaner, cheaper, and more secure energy future.
What are the benefits?
The SIF-funded projects are a testament to the power of collaboration between energy network companies, Innovators, and Partner organisations to drive the shift towards a low-carbon future. These investments will bring significant cost savings and benefits to consumers while also reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It is exciting to see how the energy system is transforming, and the potential impact of these projects is immense.
The EIC has played a vital role in facilitating many of the projects selected for funding under SIF. The EIC worked with Networks, UKRI, and the ENA to identify suitable innovators and innovations that met the specific criteria and themes of SIF. By doing so, the EIC helped to ensure that the SIF was directed towards the most promising projects that have the potential to transform the energy system and accelerate the UK's transition to net-zero emissions.
Get in touch with the EIC to find out what funding opportunities are available for Innovators.