Theme Strategy in relation to Balancing Capability
The Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme has been actively managing its portfolio since 2004 to enhance the UK’s international standing in energy research. The EPSRC Energy Theme has been working with stakeholders to revisit the strategic trajectories identified in the 2011-2015 Delivery Plan, taking into account the quality of research, academic capacity and importance to the UK in each research area.
An overview of the current portfolio was generated from a detailed analysis of the grants held in all energy research areas and was considered against the importance of the area in supporting the future energy commitments of the UK.
Our decisions have considered the UK’s energy policy and user landscape. Working with our Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) we have updated the RCUK Energy programme’s priorities, from which the EPSRC Energy theme priorities follow. Our input included the Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group Innovation Strategy, the RCUK Energy Prospectus and wider feedback on strengths and future priorities following a series of university visits undertaken by the EPSRC's Energy team.
Key Engagement Activities
Using the RCUK Energy Programme Priorities to commence discussions, the EPSRC Energy Theme engaged with a variety of stakeholders via a series of activities ranging from formal, structured activities (such as workshops, regular meetings of the programme SAC and the cross Research Council (BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and STFC) Programme Co-ordination Group), to less formal discussions with academic and industrial stakeholders, Innovate UK and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The SAC is comprised of member and observer representatives from diverse backgrounds in industry, academia, government and Innovate UK. We met regularly with the SAC to review research areas directly associated with energy research, as well as those from across EPSRC’s portfolio that may potentially have some bearing on energy research. The SAC have been pivotal in formulating recommendations for the future direction of the programme.
A range of other activities were held in late 2015 and throughout 2016 to ensure engagement opportunities were available for the energy research community and industry, (including but not limited to):
- Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage workshop
- Independent review of nuclear fission and fusion
- Nuclear fission community meeting
- Nuclear academics meeting
- Hydrogen workshop
- Next Generation Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies workshop
- End Use Energy Demand high level group and directors meetings
- SUPERGEN workshops
We also routinely engage with a number of key stakeholders in energy, including the Energy Research Partnership, Energy Technologies Institute, Innovate UK, the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group, Energy Catapults, BEIS and the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board. We drew heavily on these relationships to ensure the national research priorities for energy in the UK are well supported.
Key Evidence Sources
In addition to the interactive workshops, we have been informed by a comprehensive list of landscape and roadmap documents from across the energy sector, some examples of the key evidence are:
- Technology Innovation Needs Assessments
- Insights from the Energy Technologies Institute
- Analysis reports from the Energy Research Partnership
- Committee on Climate Change reports
- RCUK Energy Prospectus
- NIRAB UK Nuclear Innovation and Research Programme Recommendations
This evidence has allowed us to form strategies for energy research that will enable the energy research community to contribute to innovation not just within the UK energy system but to global energy challenges.
The above list is not an exhaustive list; please see the individual research area rationales for further evidence sources and the Balancing Capability ‘Call For Evidence’ for further information.