• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £5.4m to stimulate innovation and develop UK supply chains between the power electronics and energy sectors.

  • Programme: Feasibility studies

  • Award: Up to £2m

  • Opens: 04 Feb 2013, 00:00

  • Registration closes: No deadline

  • Closes: 20 Mar 2013, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

Power electronics - enabling a resilient energy system (Feasibility study)

Competition results

The results of this competition are now available. For a list of the successful projects please see the downloadable pdf.

 

Summary

The Technology Strategy Board, in partnership with the Welsh Government and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC), is to invest up to £5.4m in a programme of technical feasibility studies, collaborative research and development and knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP). The aim is to stimulate innovation and develop UK supply chains between the power electronics and energy sectors.  
 
We see power electronics as key to enabling a resilient energy system for a future UK energy mix which will include a larger percentage of renewables, connectivity to a European supergrid, community energy systems and electric vehicle charging. The aim of this competition is to link the power electronics community across the supply chain to energy suppliers and original equipment manufacturers to encourage collaboration and innovation in response to current challenges.  
 
The competition has two strands:  
 
Strand 1 is a two-stage collaborative R&D competition with up to £2.4m available for collaborative R&D projects. They must be collaborative and business-led and have end users as part of the project. Projects will focus mainly on industrial research, with total project costs ranging from £500k to £1m – although projects outside this range will be considered.  
 
Strand 2 is offering up to £2m for pre-industrial technical feasibility studies lasting up to12 months. Projects must be led by a UK business and may be developed by a single company or be collaborative. Total project costs are expected to be between £125k and £175k. Participants will be required to present at a Collaboration Nation event.  
 
This competition opens on 4 February 2013. The deadline for applicant registration is at noon 13 March 2013
 
The deadline for applications for feasibility funding is noon 20 March 2013.  
 
The deadline for expressions of interest in collaborative R&D funding is noon 20 March 2013.  
 
A briefing event for potential applicants will be held in Birmingham on 13 February 2013.
 
Further funding of up to £1m is available in a separate targeted call for KTPs, co-funded by the Welsh Government and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The aim is to enable innovation within business by supporting the transfer of innovation ideas, capability, and knowledge into industry from academia. 
 
We welcome complementary applications to the collaborative R&D and feasibility study competition and the targeted KTP call. However organisations should ensure that their proposals can stand alone and are not dependent on both applications being successful.  
 

Background

Power electronics provides a way of controlling our energy system, from gigawatts (GW) at a national level, to kilowatts (kW) at a community level. Information and communication technologies between key parts of the system are also essential to enable this control to happen – as well as technology development in new materials, manufacturing, monitoring and other technologies.
 
The challenges of delivering a UK energy system fit for the future requires a collaborative systems approach, involving design at an early stage in order to produce ‘right first time' solutions.  
 
A future resilient energy system will look very different – offering a number of business opportunities for UK companies both nationally and as an export market. This competition focuses on developing these business opportunities by generating new collaborations across supply chains and sectors, for example: aerospace, automotive, built environment and manufacturing within the context of power electronics.  
 
As presented in the 2011 BIS report Power electronics – A strategy for success, the UK power electronics sector is described as being very strong with many parts of the power electronics supply chain represented by companies large and small, as well as significant expertise in the academic sector, having a strong international reputation for design, and being a manufacturing base for a number of companies.  
 
Against this background, a target of more than 15% of energy is predicted to be generated from renewable sources by 2020 with a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% by 2050. These present significant challenges to the continued security, stability and quality of our energy supply and will rely on power electronics to provide control – imposing new and significant demands on the UK's ageing electricity transmission and distribution networks. We will also see changes in supply – such as electrification of heat and/or transport with the emergence of approaches such as real-time pricing; these will also require development and deployment of power electronics.
 
According to the Electricity Networks and Storage Technology & Innovation Needs Assessment (2012), produced by the cross-governmental Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group (LCICG) electricity networks and storage technologies will play an important role in the future energy system. Innovation could also help create UK-based business opportunities with a value of up to an estimated £6.34 billion of UK GDP by 2050.  
 

Scope

We are looking to inspire supply chain consortia to demonstrate UK capability for the home and export market. Innovation in the context of power electronics should be central to the project. Projects should also clearly address the challenges needed for a future resilient energy system, as well as the business benefits to the UK.
 
We actively encourage projects that incorporate cross-sector working and include end-user participation, as well as involving other technologies that work towards a systems-level approach.  
 
We are looking for proposals that can address one or more of the following challenges:
  • Development of power electronics devices, components, converters and systems that ensure distribution networks are able to accommodate increasing levels of embedded generation and emerging technologies  – such as energy storage and electric vehicle charging networks and other low carbon technologies 
  • Innovative materials, device, component and monitoring technologies that can help improve system performance and manage reliability by reducing costs, losses, and the need for maintenance of systems that are required to operate in a range of extreme environments  
  • Systems approaches to reduce costs, enable simpler systems through standardisation – including development of appropriate ICT embedded systems, control systems and early stage design  
  • Devices, components, products and processes that can be transferred from other markets and can meet the challenges of the energy sector e.g. transport, aerospace, manufacturing and the built environment  
  • Development of megawatt-scale (MW) power electronics devices, components, converters and systems for the conversion of variable voltage inputs into fixed voltage for connection to the grid from new renewable generation plants – including aggregated community- scale renewables. i.e. virtual power plants utilising a number of renewable options such as wind turbines, photovoltaic systems, tidal generators and other low carbon technologies  
  • Development of MW-scale converters in Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS) to support the existing AC grid.  
  • High voltage DC systems using GW-scale power electronics converters to boost voltages for transmission over long distances – for application in offshore wind and the European supergrid  
We are looking for projects to deliver a tangible outcome that can be promoted to the energy industry at future events. Examples could be a small-scale technology demonstration, pilot system or process demonstrator.  
 

Out of scope

The following technology areas are out of scope and therefore not eligible for funding in this competition:  

  • In-vehicle power electronics technologies that are not translatable into the challenges highlighted above (this is covered by our low carbon vehicle programme)  
  • Development of ‘smart home' power electronics-related applications that are not translatable into the challenges highlighted above (this is covered by our low impact buildings programme).  
     

Project details and funding allocation

We have allocated up to £4.4m to fund projects that address the technical challenges outlined in the competition scope. Universities and research-and-technology organisations, including Catapults, are eligible as partners in both streams of funding, but their portion of the project will be capped at 30% of project costs.  

Looking for partners to work on your project? Visit the power electronics group on _connect to find collaborators and networks.  
 
There are two strands to this competition:  
 
Strand 1 is a collaborative R&D two-stage competition with up to £2.4m available. Projects must be business-led and collaborative and have end users as part of the project (e.g. distribution network operators, systems integrators, original equipment manufacturers). They should last between two and three years and will focus mainly on industrial research. A guideline for total project costs will range from £500k to £1m – although projects outside this range will be considered. We are also interested in existing technologies that can be translated from other proven market sectors into the energy industry.  
 
Strand 2 covers feasibility projects with up to £2m available to invest in technical feasibility studies lasting up to 12 months. Projects must be pre-industrial technical feasibility studies, led by a UK company and may be developed by a single company or be collaborative. Any size of company may apply, however we are particularly encouraging projects led by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). We expect typical total project costs to be between £125k and £175k.   
 
Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. We may apply a portfolio approach across the strands/areas and competition type, subject to applications meeting the required quality threshold.  
 
Grants for both strands will be awarded against eligible costs to successful participants according to the type of organisation and the category of research and development being undertaken. As an example, in a collaborative preindustrial technology feasibility study consisting of an SME and a university, the SME will be eligible to claim up to 75% of their eligible costs and a university partner will be eligible to claim 100% of their costs (80% of their full economic costs). See here for further details.   
 
To enhance the cross-sector and collaborative nature of this competition, there will be a Collaboration Nation event on completion of the feasibility studies in 2014. Its aim will be to position the UK as a leader in power electronics for future energy systems and to link projects and people to the wider investment community through channels such as private investment, the Low Carbon Networks Fund and Horizon 2020.  
 
NB: The funding rules for projects changed in September 2012. See our General guidance on how projects are now funded.  
 

Application process

This competition opens on 4 February 2013. The deadline for registration for both strands is noon on 13 March 2013.  
 
The deadline for applications for feasibility funding is noon on 20 March 2013.  
 
There is a two-stage process for the collaborative R&D funding. The deadline for expressions of interest is noon on 20 March 2013. The deadline for the second stage for invited applicants opens on 15 April 2013. The deadline for final applications is noon on 29 May 2013.  
 
A briefing event for potential applicants will be held in Birmingham on 13 February 2013 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. A consortia-building event will be held ahead of the competition opening.
 
Note: All deadlines are at noon.  
 

More information

To apply for this competition you must first register with us. You can do this by going to the web page for this competition at www.innovateuk.org under Competitions.
 
When you register you will get access to all the supporting information you need to read before applying, including the Guidance for Applicants and the application form. The specific Guidance for Applicants document for this competition provides further and essential information on applying. It will be available on the web page for this competition when it opens on 4 February 2013.
 
Competition helpline: 0300 321 4357  
 
 

Publicity

The Technology Strategy Board frequently publicises the results of competitions and this includes engagement with the media. Willing applicants will be asked to provide an agreed form of words for use in publicity material. 

E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries.  
 

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 4 February 2013
  • Briefing event: 13 February 2013
  • Registration deadline for both strands: 13 March 2013
  • Deadline for expressions of interest (EOI) CR&D and feasibility funding applications: 20 March 2013
  • Stage 2 opens for invited applicants – CR&D strand 1 only: 15 April 2013
  • Deadline for invited applications: 29 May 2013