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UK announces plan to double efforts in developing nations to boost clean energy innovation


The UK announced the Ayrton Fund at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York last September. This commitment begins in 2021, running until 2026, and will provide scientists and innovators with access to £1 billion of aid funding to research, develop and demonstrate technologies and business models that enable developing countries to transition towards clean energy solutions and meet global climate targets. The £1 billion is part of the £11.6 billion doubling of UK international climate finance (ICF), part of UK Official Development Assistance (ODA).

The UK has already increased its annual clean energy R&D investment by 155%, in advance of the 2020 end date. The 2021 Aryton commitment demonstrates a rising ambition, in both public spending and in supporting global needs as well as domestic targets. The impacts of climate change will be felt most severely in developing countries and emerging economies, where 100 million people could be pushed into poverty by the impacts of climate change as soon as 2030, according to the World Bank. Uplift and leadership in ODA is critical for accelerating clean energy innovation in developing countries. This supports the pursuit of low carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable development.

This commitment will be delivered through a series of platforms and programmes, and will support areas such as the following;

  • providing affordable access to electricity for some of the 1 billion people in developing countries who are still off the grid, including through innovative solar technology for their homes
  • enhancing large-scale energy technology to replace polluting diesel generators and ensure clean energy can be stored and not lost
  • designing clean stoves like electric pressure cookers for some of the 2.7 billion people who still rely on firewood – with the smoke damaging their health as well as the environment
  • working with energy-intensive industries and governments to achieve industrial decarbonisation
  • supporting the development of technologies and business models for sustainable cooling – residential air conditioning alone is expected to raise global temperatures by 0.5°C in the years ahead
  • designing low-emission and electric vehicles to cut pollution and make transport systems cleaner and greener.

The Ayrton Fund is named after leading British scientist and suffragette Hertha Ayrton – a pioneering physicist, mathematician and inventor whose work contributed to major scientific advancements at the beginning of the 20th century, including electric arc theory.