Research plays vital role in meeting climate targets

Teeside offshore wind farm, England

More than £3 billion has been invested in key research that will help the UK to meet its target for net zero emissions by 2050.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) invested £1.1 billion in its energy programme between 2004 and 2020.

A report by Perspective Economics found that the investment:

  • attracted around £2 billion in follow-on funding from academic, charity, public and private contributors
  • is making a positive contribution to meeting climate targets.

UK leads the way on offshore wind

Among the investments highlighted in the report was a £13.5 million grant to the Supergen Wind Hub, which brings together research by:

  • several universities
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council
  • Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.

It helped to:

  • deliver reductions in the cost of wind energy
  • make the UK both the highest installer of wind capacity in the world and a global leader in wind research.

Also highlighted was funding for the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre, which spurred the setting up of six regional carbon capture and storage clusters.

Impact has been felt across UK

More than 1,200 grants were funded and led to more than 1,000 tangible policy impacts in areas such as sustainability and energy regulation.

Spin-out companies supported by the programme generated around £28.98 million in revenue and employed 180 people.

The spin-out companies have also attracted £49.3 million in investment since 2010.

The energy programme has involved at least 1,600 unique partners since 2005 in the academic, public, private, and charitable sectors.

It has seen the benefits widely distributed across UK regions.

Research will help us meet 2050 targets

Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, EPSRC Executive Chair, said:

This report demonstrates how research funded by EPSRC’s energy programme is helping the UK to take the necessary steps to meet its 2050 net zero targets.

The rapid growth of renewable resources in delivering UK electricity is an excellent example.

Our energy programme has helped world-class researchers to become global leaders in energy research, attracting further investment, and stimulating the kind of jobs and growth that are vital to our future economy.

Helping to deliver net zero is one of the highest priorities for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

With COP26 being held in November, this report is particularly timely.

Programme tackles net zero

EPSRC has funded a wide range of research into fields including:

  • whole energy systems
  • carbon capture and storage
  • offshore renewable energy
  • emerging solar technologies
  • bioenergy
  • hydrogen and alternative vectors.

Working across the breadth of UKRI, it focuses on:

  • discovering solutions to problems that we cannot yet solve
  • developing those technologies and solutions that are not yet ready
  • deploying at scale technologies and solutions.

Together these are vital components for the UK to meet its net zero target to minimise climate change.

Top image:  Credit: Philip Silverman/GettyImages

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