A four-year programme that aims to develop technologies to help meet the needs of the UK’s future power systems is to start with investment of £2.4m.
The funding will go towards feasibility studies aimed at stimulating innovation in automated power distribution and demand management.
According to a statement, the funding competition is the first element of a planned portfolio of investment into power network innovations and forms the exploratory phase of the programme, which will be funded and managed by the Technology Strategy Board.
Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: ‘By 2050, there will be a complex mix of energy-generating assets, including everything from nuclear power stations to offshore wind turbines and solar cells on people’s houses.
‘At the same time, demand for power will go up and the power sector will need to manage new requirements, such as the electrification of heating systems and the incorporation of electric vehicles into the electricity system.
‘In this complex future grid, the challenge will be to match demand and supply. The scope of this initial funding competition will, therefore, focus on real-time monitoring, control, analysis and the balancing of supply with demand.’
According to clean-tech market analysts Pike Research, the global market for goods in the field of energy networks could be worth an estimated £110bn by 2014.
It is estimated that reinforcements to the power network through increased automation of distribution and demand side participation — the ability of energy consumers to make decisions about the quantity and timing of their electricity supply — will save the UK £8bn by 2020.
These areas require the advanced integration of information and communications technologies, electronics, photonics and electrical systems, advanced materials, industrial mathematics and nanoscale technologies.
The ’Smart power distribution and demand’ competition for funding feasibility studies opens on 9 January 2012 and the deadline for submission of applications is 22 February 2012.
Match funding worth £25,000 will be available for short-term feasibility studies that present concepts for future innovative technologies, business and operational models with the potential to make a substantial contribution to the cost-effective development of flexible, resilient, self-healing and secure future power networks.
For more detailed feasibility studies, presenting opportunities to demonstrate innovation, up to £100,000 match funding will be available.