• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £11m in a programme of collaborative research and development to stimulate innovation in localised energy systems.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £11m

  • Opens: 20 Jan 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 12 Mar 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 19 Mar 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Localised energy systems - a cross-sector approach

Competition results

The results of this competition are now available; see the PDF of the winning project proposals.


EPSRC logoThe Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are to invest up to £11m in a programme of collaborative research and development to stimulate innovation in localised energy systems. Up to £9.5m is available from the Technology Strategy Board and up to a further £1.5m is available from EPSRC to support academic partners contributing specifically to the energy sector aspects of projects. 
The UK will need a diverse mix of energy sources and systems by 2050, to ensure that supplies remain affordable, resilient and flexible. Local energy systems will play an important part, and technologies are required for generating, harvesting, distributing, storing, and using energy at this scale. 
We aim to improve the balance of demand and supply by supporting the integration of technologies into energy systems, including those of energy users and producers, at a scale from clusters of buildings up to whole districts. This will enable companies to develop products and systems to address some of the challenges that the built environment, energy, transport and digital sectors face in preparing for a low-carbon future. 
Proposals must be collaborative and business-led. We expect to fund mainly industrial research projects in which a business partner will generally attract up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). We will consider favourably projects that include cross-sector working. 
We expect projects to range in size from total costs of £200k to £2m, although we may consider projects outside this range. 
This is a two-stage competition that opens for applicants on 20 January 2014. The deadline for registration is at noon on 12 March 2014 and the deadline for expressions of interest is at noon on 19 March 2014
A briefing event for potential applicants will be held in Bristol on 30 January 2014


The transition to a low-carbon economy will involve major changes to the way we supply and use energy over coming years. There will be a complex mix of technologies generating, transmitting, distributing and storing energy by 2050. They will operate at a number of different scales, from clusters of buildings to community systems, and industrial and national networks. 
At the same time, there will be increased demand for electricity, driven by the electrification of transport systems (rail and electric vehicles), electrification of heating and ventilation (cooling) systems, increased power consumables, changing working patterns, and changing demographics. 
There are complex challenges, not only in developing the individual technologies, but also in how technologies are integrated to deliver robust, flexible and cost-effective systems.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is developing a strategy for Community EnergyChallenges are not just limited to the energy sector. Recent findings from the Technology Strategy Board's ultra low carbon vehicle demonstrator programme showed that many issues needed to be addressed in the local supply system to allow for widespread electric vehicle charging without overloading the network. In the built environment, infrastructure provides the framework that connects the places in which we live, work and socialise. These networks form the backbone of modern society and the economy. The UK needs to develop infrastructure that is affordable, flexible and resilient. 
There is an opportunity for businesses to develop new products, services, and solutions in and across the energy, built environment, transport and digital sectors, including: 
  • energy – integration of renewable energy supplies in places of high demand to reduce the need to reinforce the grid; balancing supply and demand; developing a resilient energy system that is affordable, low carbon and secure; active control and communications systems 
  • built environment – integrating DC systems and electric vehicle or easy charging systems into buildings; opportunities for delivering packages of infrastructure improvements to improve affordable, adaptable and flexible systems to support growth and reduce capital and revenue costs 
  • transport – removing the barriers to energy supply for electric vehicle charging at local, regional, and national scale; leveraging the benefits of electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle charging, such as load-levelling; use or deployment of smart-metering; battery reuse (or other energy storage media) to supply periodic localised high-power demands 
  • digital – a drive for increased engagement in generating, using, and trading energy locally; enhanced data management and security. 
Navigant and Bloomberg estimate that the market for smart energy systems to UK companies will be worth £3-5bn by 2020 and that the growth rate in the UK is 10% and in the EU 30%. The electricity networks and storage Technology & Innovation Needs Assessment (2012) produced by the cross-governmental Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group (under Technology focus areas) highlights that innovation could also help create UK-based business opportunities with a value of £6-34bn by 2050. 
To enhance the cross-sector nature of this competition and to help make the UK a leader in developing energy systems, there will be a series of activities to support the project teams and the communities that are being formed. We intend to showcase new innovations to the wider investment and cross government policy community. 


For this competition, energy systems include electricity, combustible gases, heating and cooling systems, and alternative fuels. These can be at scales from clusters of buildings up to district level, including energy users and/or producers as well as virtual communities. We encourage solutions that bring disparate buildings and energy users together to benefit from shared energy infrastructure and services. Through cross-sector working (energy, built environment, transport, and digital sectors) the projects will deliver innovations in system integration. Applicants should demonstrate how they are working across at least two of the four sectors, for example a project could tackle electric vehicle charging and network infrastructure as well as new services in energy trading. 
Projects should address one or more of the challenge areas identified below: 
  • systems solutions that balance supply and demand and enable economically viable energy eco systems, including:
    • design and modelling 
    • interoperability 
    • combination/aggregation of individual technologies 
    • active management, control and monitoring of energy systems and networks 
    • customer engagement tools 
  • developing new services for local energy systems, including:
    • low carbon vehicle charging/ refuelling (inclusive of hydrogen, methane and other alternative fuels) 
    • resilient systems services 
    • demand-side management 
    • commercial models and trading protocols that enable technologies and systems to be used effectively 
    • new ways of using/deploying smart metering 
  • integration of individual technologies, including innovative combinations of:
    • distributed generation, energy harvesting, storage, heating and cooling and power technologies 
    • smarter charging/refuelling, and innovative energy storage facilities, for use with electric and alternatively- fuelled vehicles 
    • DC power systems to supply consumer electronics from DC sources, for example, photovoltaics, fuel cells and batteries, without the need for conversion to AC 
  • preparing for the digital energy era where appliances can intelligently communicate with supply networks to automatically manage energy demand including:
    • ICT enabling systems 
    • tools for managing data, security and use 
    • communication, sensors. 
Projects are encouraged to consider global opportunities as well as solutions for the UK energy system, and to look at how their proposition will bring about business benefits. 
We are looking for projects to deliver a tangible output that can be presented at future events. Examples could include small-scale technology demonstration, proof of concept, pilot system or process demonstrator. 
The following technology areas are out of scope and therefore not eligible for funding in this competition: 
  • projects that focus on individual technology development alone, for example generation technologies, storage media, new battery development, development of smart-meters 
  • projects that focus on energy efficiency measures for buildings or individual building management systems technologies, as this is covered through our low impact buildings programme. 

Looking for partners to work on your project or information on future activities? 

Visit the future energy systems group on _connect to find collaborators and an opportunity to discuss your ideas. 

Funding allocation and project details

We have allocated up to £11m for projects that address the technical challenges outlined in the competition scope. Universities and research-and-technology organisations, including Catapults, are eligible as partners, but their portion of funding in any one project will be capped at 30% of the total project cost. Local authorities, charitable organisations and alternative energy schemes are welcome to participate as partners in projects as long as there are demonstrable business benefits to the overall project. 
Successful project participants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The percentage of costs that we pay varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of organisation involved. See www.innovateuk.org/-/funding-rules 
For this competition projects must be business-led and collaborative. We encourage projects to have strong cross-sector collaborations. They should  last between 12 and 36 months. We are primarily seeking to fund industrial research with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). We expect projects to range in size from £200k to £2m. We may consider larger projects but applicants should contact us directly before making their application to discuss further. 
Up to £1.5m is available from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as part of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, to support academic partners contributing specifically to the energy sector aspects of projects. In line with the overall scope of the competition, academic contributions should focus on integration of technologies, rather than on the development of a specific technology. Projects attracting an EPSRC contribution will be complementary to existing Energy Programme funding. 

Application process

This is a two-stage competition that opens for applicants on 20 January 2014. 
Stage 1 – Applicants submit an expression of interest which is assessed. 
Stage 2 – We invite selected applicants to submit an application. 
All applicants must first register via our website by noon on 12 March 2014. The deadline for expressions of interest is noon 19 March 2014
The second-stage deadline for invited applications is at noon on 22 May 2014
Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. We may apply a portfolio approach across the themes/areas, subject to applications meeting the required quality threshold. 
A briefing for potential applicants will be held in Bristol on 30 January 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend this event. 
Note: All deadlines are at noon. 

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 20 January 2014
  • Competition briefing: 30 January 2014
  • Registration deadline: 12 March 2014 noon
  • Expressions of interest (EOI) deadline: 19 March 2014 noon
  • Stage 2 opens for invited applicants: 7 April 2014
  • Deadline for invited applications: 22 May 2014

More information

To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for applications.


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive.
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the decision to offer an award has been communicated to applicants by email. Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public.