UK and China agree £20 million Low Carbon Innovation programme

Supplementary content information

Professor David Delpy and Professor Li Ming sitting at a table signing a memorandum of understanding as Greg Barker stands behind watching

EPSRC’s CEO, David Delpy and NSFC's, Professor Li Ming, sign MoU witnessed by UK’s Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker

A new £20 million three-year programme that will support research to develop new low carbon manufacturing processes and technologies, low carbon cities and offshore renewables in the UK and China was agreed yesterday, Wednesday 5th March 2014.

Representatives from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the EPSRC, as part of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme, signed a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) at a meeting in London which was witnessed by the UK’s Minister of State for Climate Change, Greg Barker.

Under the MoU, the UK and China will each commit £10 million of matched resources over the next three years and there will be approximately £6.6 million available each year. The agreement, is the latest collaboration in a series of joint research programmes stretching over the last five years that have already reaped rich rewards for both countries.

Professor Li Ming, Deputy Director, Department of Engineering and Materials Sciences at NSFC said, In the past few years, NSFC and RCUK have witnessed substantive development of their bilateral relationship and enjoyed successful collaboration in the area of energy research. We look forward to continuing the collaboration and bringing more benefits to the two scientific communities.

Professor David Delpy, EPSRC Chief Executive, said: This latest agreement addresses how to develop new low carbon methods of manufacturing, urban living and energy production. Meeting the needs of industry and consumers, while reducing the demands humankind places on the environment, are similar challenges for both China and the UK. International collaborations like these bring the best academic talents together to find the solutions that can benefit all.

Welcoming the programme Minister of State for Climate Change, Greg Barker said: I am very pleased to witness the next stage of this ambitious programme. Investing in innovation and science is essential for both the UK and China to address energy supply issues and meet emissions targets, as well as drive long-term economic growth. In the UK we have ring-fenced a science budget worth £4.6 billion per year, and invested £29 million in joint projects with China.

Notes for Editors

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The EPSRC is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

Previous UK-China Energy collaborations

Since 2007, RCUK has invested over £29 million in joint UK-China energy research projects, most of which have been supported by matched resources from Chinese funders, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

The collaborative efforts to support world-leading research that will, in turn, facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy, have included a number of calls:

  • In 2008-2009, the initial UK-China energy calls were launched, in partnership with MoST; topics included renewable energy technologies and cleaner fossil fuels;
  • In 2009, RCUK funded four innovation-focused projects through the RCUK Science Bridges initiative. One of these collaborations was in the theme of sustainable energy and the built environment;
  • The RCUK Energy Programme launched co-funded calls with both CAS and NSFC in 2010-2011: RCUK and NSFC invested £5.6 million in the first call, supporting research into carbon capture and storage technologies; the second call focused on solar cells, solar fuels and fuel cells, with £5 million investment from RCUK and CAS;
  • In 2012-2013, two further calls were run by RCUK and NSFC. The first was in smart grids; RCUK and NSFC investment totalled £6.6 million. The second call focused on the integration of smart grids and electric vehicles, with a total investment of £8.2 million;
  • In 2013-2014, RCUK and NSFC supported five joint projects in energy storage, with £10 million investment from the RCUK Energy Programme and NSFC.

The Research Councils UK Energy Programme

The Research Councils UK Energy Programme aims to position the UK to meet its energy and environmental targets and policy goals through world-class research and training. The Energy Programme is investing more than £625 million in research and skills to pioneer a low carbon future. This builds on an investment of £839 million over the past eight years (December 2011).

Led by EPSRC, the Energy Programme brings together the work of EPSRC and that of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Reference: PN 20-14