The Energy Innovation Landscape

ERP’s aim is to increase the level, coherence and effectiveness of public and private investment in UK energy innovation, set within an international context. The remit covers the whole energy system, including supply (nuclear, fossil fuels, renewables), infrastructure, and demand (built environment, energy efficiency, transport).

ERP’s 2006 report, ‘UK Energy Innovation’ illustrated the innovation process by a ‘funnel diagram’ (below). In driving new ideas up the learning curve to the commercial deployment, the funnel highlights some specific aspects, which emphasise the non-linear and complex nature of innovation:

  • R&D plays an important role throughout the innovation chain
  • Feedback at all stages defines further needs for R&D
  • Technology push is needed to move ideas that emerge from scientific research towards the market
  • Market pull develops technologies through to deployment in response to market need

Innovation Landscape

ERP’s ‘Energy Innovation Milestones to 2050’ showed how technology development at all stages would be necessary to meet emission reduction targets. Technologies will require either funding or policy interventions according to their current status:

Deploy

Most of the technologies that will form part of the energy system in 2020 are either available now or at the later stages of the innovation chain. ERP’s remit does not extend to advising on mechanisms to ensure technologies are deployed. However, it is clear that their rapid deployment will be essential to meet emission reduction targets and allow new technologies to make a further impact.

Demonstrate

Large scale, strategic, demonstration activities are needed over the next decade. This applies across the energy spectrum and includes electricity generation, transport and the built environment. In some cases, such programmes are already underway. However, the scale needs to be increased over the coming years so that decisions which may affect the long term future of the energy system can be taken with the best available information.

Research and develop

More basic research and development (R&D) is needed to develop technologies that will maintain the trajectory of decarbonisation beyond 2030 as well as R&D to support improvements in deployed technologies. A wide range of physical and biological sciences underpin applied energy technology and engineering disciplines and need to be maintained.