RCUK commits £14 million to UK Energy Research Centre

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The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) will continue to act as the focal point of UK energy research following the announcement today of a further £14 million of funding from three research councils EPSRC, NERC and ESRC via the RCUK Energy Programme.

Science Minister David Willetts said: The UK is a world leader in future energy systems and the need to find new and innovative solutions has never been greater. We live in a world of climate change and energy supply challenges but with ever-increasing demand put on our energy resources. Funding new research is absolutely vital for providing future certainty for the industry.

The funding has been welcomed by UKERC Research Director, Professor Jim Watson, who said: This further support for UKERC is welcome, and comes at a critical time in the development of energy systems in the UK and abroad. We know that these systems need to change radically to tackle climate change and other societal goals, but the way forward is increasingly uncertain. UKERC's research and engagement activities will help to inform policy development, industry strategies and wider energy debates.

UKERC was established in 2004 and is now in its third phase of support from the research councils. UKERC carries out world-class research into sustainable future energy systems. It is the hub of UK energy research and the gateway between the UK and the international energy research communities.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: Developing a coherent approach to energy policy is vital to the UK’s future. The pressure on our systems from internal demand, external supply and climate change mean we must explore all avenues to establish what will fit our needs and what will reduce our carbon emissions and improve sustainability.

Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC, said: Continuing to support the UKERC will allow us to better tackle the challenges faced by the changing energy landscape and help shape a lower carbon future. The social sciences have much to contribute to building a strong evidence base for current and future public debates.

Professor Duncan Wingham, NERC’s Chief Executive said: Continued support for whole systems energy research through UKERC will help us to manage our environment responsibly by assessing the availability of natural resources for the UK energy system, including the availability and implications for UK energy security, the economy and ecosystems.

Notes for Editors

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC)

The UKERC carries out world-class research into sustainable future energy systems. It is the hub of UK energy research and the gateway between the UK and the international energy research communities. Its interdisciplinary, whole systems research informs UK policy development and research strategy.

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme

The RCUK Energy Programme led by EPSRC 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.

The Energy Programme brings together the work of EPSRC and that of the BBSRC, the ESRC, the NERC, and the STFC.

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.

Reference: PN 43-14