United Kingdom

Highlights in 2019
Highlights in 2019


High impact innovation activity triggered by MI

Power Forward Challenge: UK-Canada joint challenge on smart energy systems innovation

Through the Power Forward Challenge, the UK and Canada are jointly offering over £11 million to develop the best smart energy systems for the 21st Century with the aim of having pilot-scale demonstrations by December 2020.

This funding competition is a result of the relationships and understanding of mutual priorities that have been developed between the UK and Canada through MI. As a result of this relationship, in September 2017, the Prime Ministers of the UK and Canada agreed a Clean Growth and Climate Change Partnership, and the joint Power Forward challenge was announced at the 3rd MI Ministerial.

The challenge has generated significant interest on both sides of the Atlantic with 21 UK and Canadian companies funded for the Phase 1 feasibility studies. New collaborations include; the Maple project which is exploring the feasibility of exporting smart demand balancing controls systems domestic hybrid heat pumps to Canada, or the OpenFlex project which is bringing proven smart grid and smart home technology from Canada to the UK, taking advantage of the new UK smart metering infrastructure. In phase 2, project teams can apply for up to £1.8 million (C$3m) per project for demonstration projects in the UK or Canada.

Impact of your national clean energy innovation activity

Innovation has been critical in driving down the costs of clean energy technologies.

  • Energy efficient light bulbs over 80% cheaper than 2010.
  • The price of Lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 85% since 2010 and is expected to more than halve again by 2030 according to industry experts.
  • Offshore wind costs fallen by two thirds between 2015 and 2019.

The BEIS Energy Innovation Programme Impact so far:

  • £505 million portfolio fully committed.
  • Over 700 organisations supported.
  • On average each Programme achieves match funding of ~40% from the private sector.

Update on clean energy innovation policies and strategies

In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to legally commit the UK to reaching Net Zero by 2050[1]. The UK has already reduced emissions by 42% while growing the economy by 72% and has put clean growth at the heart of industrial strategy. Innovation is essential to this goal, as it nurtures better products, processes, and systems, driving down the cost of clean technologies. This increases their accessibility and attractiveness, enabling clean technologies to deliver economic gains whilst generating significantly lower emissions.

The UK supports energy innovation through the BEIS Energy Innovation Programme (EIP), the UK Research and Innovation Councils, the Faraday Challenge and a range of department specific funds in BEIS, DfT, DfID and more. The BEIS EIP now expects to invest more than £3bn in low carbon energy innovation, higher than the £2.5bn set out in the 2017 Clean Growth Strategy[2].

Major innovation initiatives and programmes in 2019/20

BEIS Energy Innovation Programme (EIP)

  • The UK now expect to invest more than £3 billion in energy R&D and innovation between 2016 and 2021.
  • As part of the UK government’s £3 billion investment, the current £505 million Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Energy Innovation Programme is investing: £70 million in smart systems; £90 million in the built environment; £100 million for industrial decarbonisation & CCUS; £180 million in nuclear innovation (fission); £15 million in renewables; £50 million supporting entrepreneurs and green finance.
  • The BEIS EIP aims to reduce the costs of delivering secure, low carbon energy and to maximise the opportunities for UK businesses to capture a larger share of the expanding low carbon goods & services sector in the UK and abroad.
  • Regional investment already realised includes UK government funding for the UK’s first Carbon Capture & Use plant at Tata Chemicals, Cheshire. Once operational, it will capture 40,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, a reduction in carbon emissions of 11% – equivalent of taking 22,000 cars a year off the road. Further support provided from the EIP includes:
    • £7 million funding for a CCUS testing facility in Rotherham
    • Testing of new offshore wind blades in the North East of England
    • 30 home trial of advanced smart meters in Liverpool
    • £10 million funding for the world’s largest Liquid Air Energy Storage facility and one of Europe’s largest energy stores in Manchester

International Climate Finance (ICF)

  • Energy storage:
    • Joined the Energy Storage Partnership (ESP) in May 2019 to foster energy storage solutions in developing countries.
    • Contributed £200m to the Climate Investment Fund’s Global Energy Storage Programme in September 2019.
  • Sustainable cooling:
    • Joined the UNEP Cool Coalition in September 2019 to expand access to sustainable cooling in developing countries.
    • Published a Sustainable Cooling Guide in July 2020 showcasing UK leadership and opportunities-for-action ahead of COP 26.
    • Co-hosted and presented in a virtual workshop on sustainable cooling at the Asia Clean Energy Forum in June 2020.
  • Industrial decarbonisation:
    • Joined the Leadership Group for Industry Transitions in September 2019 to foster cooperation between countries and businesses to support the decarbonisation of heavy industry.
    • Co-hosted and presented in a virtual workshop on CCUS at the Asia Clean Energy Forum in June 2020.
  • Cross-Cutting:
    • Our international spend through Official Development Assistance for clean energy innovation (research, development and demonstration) is being doubled as part of the £1b Ayrton Fund over the next five years, announced by the UK Prime Minister in September 2019.

 Department for Transport

  • £1.4m Clean Maritime Call, supporting projects aiming to develop technological solutions for zero emission shipping. 10 project proposals were selected for funding to develop mid TRL (TRL 3-7) technology, out of a total of 55 submissions from organisation across the UK.


  • £41m spent on RD&D programmes in support of SDG7 (energy for all) and SG13 (climate change), including new clean energy access technologies and the business models needed to deploy them. This includes the flagship Transforming Energy Access Programme, which has already prototyped and demonstrated hundreds of new clean energy access innovations, and supported over 5 million people to improve their access to clean energy, created 54,000 sustainable long-term jobs in the clean energy generation and supply market, and leveraged £490 million of additional funding from public and private sources for clean energy R&D.

Private sector engagement in 2019/20

Clean Growth Fund

  • Launched in May 2020, the Clean Growth Fund aims to speed up the deployment of innovative clean technologies that reduce emissions, by making direct investments in companies seeking to commercialise promising technologies. The £40m fund combines a £20m investment from BEIS and £20m from CCLA, a private sector investor with an environmental social governance agenda. The fund has ambitions to reach £100m and is now seeking additional investment from other private sector investors.

Energy Entrepreneurs Fund

  • In September 2019, BEIS announced the recipients of Phase 7 Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, a competitive funding scheme to support the development and demonstration of state-of-the-art technologies, products and processes in the areas of energy efficiency, power generation and heat and electricity storage. 22 firms were funded, and a full list of all EEF recipients is available here. Since 2012 the EEF has invested ~£75m in grant money in over 130 companies, leveraging over £100m in private investment[3].

Net-Zero Compatible Innovations

  • Through the Carbon Trust. we have supported the Net-Zero Compatible Innovations Initiative from RISE. This initiative supports the private sector through:
  • Developing an “Avoided Emissions Framework” to enable analysis of the potential emissions savings of a new investment
  • Assessing solutions directly, as part of a global target of 60 GtC02 of Climate Innovations
  • Development of an assessment tool for independent use by private firms

Major activities in support of the Innovation Challenges in 2019/20

IC3 – Carbon Capture

  • 3rd Accelerating CCUS Technologies (ACT) Call: The UK supports ACT as a key mechanism for international funding of CCUS technologies. The 3rd Call launched in June 2020, with Italy and India joining as new members.[4]
  • Trondheim Workshop: Jointly facilitated by the UK (BEIS) and Norway (SINTEF) this workshop focused on research gaps, opportunities, and priorities in late stage CCUS technologies. A summary report was released in October 2019[5], looking at six CCUS technology areas including decarbonising industry and the role of CCS in enabling low carbon hydrogen.

IC5 – Converting Sunlight

  • UK experts are co-leading, with the IC5 leadership in Brussels, the drafting and development of the IC5 Science and Technology Roadmap, including the co-chairing of roadmapping workshops in Brussels (Oct 2019), Hiroshima (Nov 2019) and USA/Online (August 2020).

IC7 – Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings

  • Through its co-leadership of IC7, the UK has supported the Global Cooling Prize[6], which announced 8 finalists in November 2019. The UK was represented by the British High Commissioner to India Sir Dominic Asquith, and University of Cambridge based firm Barocal Ltd was announced as one of the finalists, asked to develop a demonstration on its non-vapor compression cooling technology in 2020.

Other Mission Innovation related activity in 2019/20

The UK participated in the second call of MI Champions, which saw Dr. Michaela Kendall selected as the UK Champion. Dr.Kendall is CEO of Adelan, one of the world’s first fuel cell businesses, which works towards commercialising a clean energy technology she co-invented. Adelan has managed industrial R&D programmes with the US, EU and China. Dr. Kendall started her career as an environmental scientist, building a 30 year career which addressed the emissions, security and cost of energy.

National plans and priorities for clean energy innovation

The UK is the first major economy to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming, reaching Net Zero by 2050. In his March Budget, the UK Chancellor announced that he would at least double the size of the BEIS Energy Innovation Programme to at least £1 billion, focusing on decarbonising our power, homes and industry to meet the challenge of net zero.

The UK is preparing for an ambitious COP26 conference in 2020. As a proud member of Mission Innovation we are pleased that its second phase is being supported as part of the UK’s COP26 Presidency, and we look forward to its launch in 2021.

New Collaborations

3rd ACT Call
Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Sweden, US
ACT facilitates the emergence of CCUS via transnational funding aimed at accelerating and maturing CCUS technology.
Sectors: public-public
Type of collaboration: International Funding Call for RD&D CCUS Projects.
Duration: start in Nov 2020, new projects to commence by September 2021
Funding amount: TBA Total – Current commitment from members is ~EUR 29 million
Find out more

Predictive Maintenance and Optimisation priority area
17 countries (including AU, AT, BE, CA,CN, DK, DE,  FI, IR, IT,JP, NL, NO, SG, SW, UK, US) and 48 entities involved
To accelerate the market development of next generation digital technology to drive innovation in advanced building management and energy efficiency
Sectors: public-private
Type of collaboration: IEA Buildings and Communities Programme TCP, 5 MI countries have secured national funding
Start date: April 2020
End date: April 2023

Comfort Climate box
11 countries (UK, SE, CA, TR, US, DE, IT, NL, AT, CH, FR) and the International Energy Agency
Accelerating the market development for smart integrated heating, cooling and energy storage
Sectors: public-private
Type of collaboration: IEA TCP HPT & ECES; 7 MI countries have secured national funding
Start date: January 2019
End date: June 2021

Advanced sorption heat pumps using salts
New project investigating low cost sorption systems
Sectors: public-public
Type of collaboration: research collaboration through IC7
Start date: June 2020
End date: March 2023
Funding amount: £500k

IC5 Science and Technology Roadmap
European Commission. IC5 global experts (particularly Japan and USA)
Development of IC5 Global roadmap, aligned with SUNRISE / SUNERGY initiatives. Includes series of 4 international workshops
Sectors: public-private
Type of collaboration: research and development
Start date: 2019
End date: 2020
Funding amount: £20k direct funding for roadmap from EPSRC. €1.5M for aligned SUNRISE EU project. SUNERGY targeting €300M initiative


[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-becomes-first-major-economy-to-pass-net-zero-emissions-law

[2] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-innovation#history

[3] https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/energy-entrepeneurs-fund

[4] http://www.act-ccs.eu/calls

[5] https://mission-innovation.net/our-work/innovation-challenges/carbon-capture/

[6] https://globalcoolingprize.org/