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More money urged for low-carbon technologies

Funding boosts for low-carbon energy innovation and R&D are needed if technology is to be commercially viable by 2050, according to three reports issued by a collaboration of government departments and energy organisations.

The Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group (LCICG) published three Technology Innovation Needs Assessments on 16 August outlining the main areas of investment needed to improve the growth of marine energy, carbon capture and storage and electricity networks and storage technologies.

According to one assessment, carbon capture and storage technologies have “tremendous” potential, and could reduce UK energy costs by between £10 billion and £45bn to 2050.

The report recommends novel capture techniques, deep-sea storage and risk mitigation and remediation technologies as important areas for R&D. It adds that the UK should seek to lead multinational research collaborations in these areas.

David Bott, director of innovation programmes at the Technology Strategy Board, an LCICG member, says that while CCS technologies would keep the UK using coal and gas for as long as possible, it is necessary to have a range of low-carbon energy strategies and investments.

The TSB recently launched a catapult centre dedicated to offshore renewable energies—wind, tidal and wave—with this in mind.

In order for marine energy to make a meaningful contribution to UK energy, the LCICG writes in another of the reports, costs would need to be reduced by 50 to 75 per cent by 2025. This is described as “ambitious but conceivable and only possible with significant innovation”.

Nevertheless, Colin Hood, chairman of the offshore renewable energies catapult, told Research Fortnight Today earlier this week that the primary focus of the new catapult centre, which will receive £10 million a year over five years, will be wind energy. Marine is expected to be added to its agenda in five to 10 years.

“The primary priority is offshore wind,” Bott agreed. “We need to move that as fast as possible to get the catapult paying off. But, we will work on marine at the same time.”

He added that, as mentioned in the Technology Innovation Needs Assessment on wind, published in February, 70 per cent of the investment in wind energy would focus on developing technologies “below the waves”, which would be the same for all offshore energies.

The third Technology Innovation Needs Assessment published on 16 August, on electricity networks and storage technologies, recommended analyses of potential new stresses likely to be placed on the electricity system. Innovation in EN&S technologies could play an important role in the future energy system, it found, potentially saving the UK £4bn-19bn to 2050.