Introduction - pioneering a low carbon future

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An introduction to how the Energy Programme is helping the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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Professor Nigel Brandon – Director, Energy Futures Lab, Imperial College

The RCUK Energy Programme is working towards meeting the government targets of an 80 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. And it is doing this by working with the academic community and nurturing and enabling new ideas and new research to come forward which will allow those targets to be made. The programme is focusing on making certain we have the right supply of scientists, engineers, social scientists and economists to allow us to deliver high quality research that is relevant to the global energy challenge. The Energy Programme involves the EPSRC, the ESRCNERCBBSRC and STFC.

The RCUK Energy Programme works with over 500 public and private partners ranging from public organisations like the Technology Strategy Board, the Carbon Trust and DECC and private organisations like Rolls-Royce and E-on.

We have a lot of projects on carbon capture and storage. We have a project looking at how you use solar energy to split water to produce hydrogen, so this would be hydrogen with no carbon emissions associated with it. Projects on solar, we’ve had a long standing activity on solar research. Big projects on nuclear energy and on smart grids. These are just some examples of the research activities as well as my own research area which is fuel cell technology.

The investments made by the RCUK Energy Programme will allow the UK to compete in a global economy where we have to tackle these challenges of energy security, affordability, and sustainability.