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£11m fund backs pro-growth climate action

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A system which uses the sun to cool buildings and uses no electricity, an ultra-low temperature battery that can be used in Antarctica and a biofuel cell which turns a waste product from beer into energy are some of the latest technologies backed by Government experts.

The new innovations are some of the 32 different projects that have been supported through the latest £11.3m round of the Energy Catalyst programme. The Energy Catalyst is a joint programme run by the Government’s innovation experts at Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “We are clear that taking action on climate change goes hand in hand with securing our long term economic and energy security. By backing businesses and helping them grasp the opportunity that clean growth represents we can have pro-growth climate action.

“That’s exactly what the Energy Catalyst, run by Innovate UK and the EPSRC, does and these businesses that we’re supporting today have recognised the growth and productivity boost that a clean economy represents.”

The Energy Catalyst programme supports innovative ideas all the way from early concept through to prototype demonstrators so long as they help tackle the energy ‘trilemma’ of reducing carbon emissions, reducing costs and increasing security of supply. More than two hundred high quality applications were assessed by Innovate UK for this second round of the competition.

Head of Energy at Innovate UK Rob Saunders said: “Tackling the energy trilemma is the biggest challenge facing the energy sector today. Businesses, consumers and producers are all recognising the economic sense of reducing costs and carbon emissions, as well as making sure we have a resilient energy supply.

The Energy Catalyst is specifically designed to address that challenge, while at the same time helping firms across the UK benefit economically from it and bring innovative new products to the market.”

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: “Based on the environmental, economic and security concerns alone , we have a pressing need to increase clean energy production, reduce energy waste and improve our abilities to store energy.  By supporting research in universities and collaboration with industry to accelerate application of its research results, the Energy Catalyst is helping the UK become more efficient, resilient and productive.”

The 32 supported projects are based all over the country and will start their projects in November.

Solar Polar, based in Peterborough, has invented a solar cooling system that will require no electrical power, will have no moving parts and will provide cooling at low cost. The innovative system design will be simple to build with local materials, will be easy to maintain, reliable and will have an operating lifetime of 30 years or more. It will be ideally suited to the cooling requirements of dwellings and small to medium sized offices, small scale food storage and retail spaces.

Hyperdrive Innovation based in Sunderland and Oxis energy from Oxford are working with the British Antarctic Survey to test the feasibility of a new generation of energy storage for use in extremely cold climates. They will test the chemistry of a rechargeable battery, battery management system and packaging that can withstand and outperform current batteries. Such a battery would allow British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to significantly increase their scientific measurements made in the Antarctic, but without increasing transport costs or emissions.

Chester based C-Tech Innovation and Imperial College, London are developing a device which takes waste water containing carbohydrates such as sugar from food producers, breweries and other processes that are contaminated with a sugars and uses it to simultaneously generate electricity in a low cost but high power fuel cell whilst cleaning the waste water.

Converting sea wave motion into electrical energy is challenging due to the relatively low speeds and irregular movements of ocean waves. Working with researchers at the University of Bristol and Southampton, WITT Ltd (WL) has devised a scalable energy generation device called the WITT that has the capability to harness wave energy. The team has made use of Southampton’s wave tank facility to test prototypes.

The WITT converts the chaotic, multidirectional mechanical motion of the ocean into a single unidirectional rotation used to drive an efficient generator for the production of electricity. By housing the device inside a sealed unit operation requires very low maintenance overcoming another of the challenges of harnessing wave energy. Already, orders to manufacture small units to power buoys have been received, but the technology could be used to harvest power from all kinds of motion on land, in the air or at sea.

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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