Significant role of research in meeting the UK’s climate targets

Report reveals that over £3bn has been invested in vital research that will help the UK meet its climate targets for net-zero emissions by 2050.

Between 2004 and 2020, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has invested an astonishing £1.1bn in its energy programme.

In a recent report by Perspective Economics, it has been revealed that this investment has resulted in approximately £2bn in follow-on funding from public, private, academic and charity contributors. As well as this, it found that the investment is making a positive contribution to meeting the UK’s climate targets.

UK leads in offshore wind

One of the key findings in the report was the role of a £13.5m grant to the Supergen Wind Hub, which unites multiple universities, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.

The report emphasised that the funding helped provide reductions in the cost of wind energy and helped facilitate the UK becoming the top installer of wind capacity in the world and a global leader in wind research.

Another underlined area was funding for the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre, which encouraged the setting up of six regional carbon capture and storage clusters.

Funding across the UK

Over 1,200 grants were funded and resulted in more than 1,000 tangible policy effects in areas including sustainability and energy regulation.

Spin-out companies backed by the programme produced approximately £28.98m in revenue and employed 180 people. As well as this, the spin-out companies have led to a further £49.3m in investment since 2010.

The EPSRC energy programme has comprised a minimum of 1,600 unique partners since 2005 in the academic, public, private, and charitable sectors, which has resulted in a wide range of benefits all over the UK.

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.”

Towards net zero energy targets

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 essential factors that must be addressed in order for the UK to meet its net-zero target to minimise climate change.

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