The Supergen programme was set up in 2001 to deliver sustained and coordinated research on Sustainable PowER GENeration and supply, focusing on several key research areas, including bioenergy; energy networks; energy storage; fuel cells; hydrogen and other vectors; marine, wave and tidal; solar technology; and wind power. For phase 3, EPSRC supported seven Supergen hubs with £150 million of investment over a five year period (including a series challenge calls and Centres for Doctoral Training).
The Supergen Programme was reviewed over the summer 2016 by an independent panel. The review report highlighted the scale of the Programme, which now represents one of the UK Governments largest single investments in fundamental research on low-carbon energy generation and sustainable distribution. The review also recognised that the programme has had high academic, socio-economic, environmental and international impact.
As part of this process, EPSRC requested that the existing hubs should work together to co-create a ‘Supergen Programme Strategy’. This will be a living document which the hubs can update over time and use to define the future of the Supergen Programme (full document available below).
Find out more
For more information, background and history of the Supergen Programme, please download ‘Supergen Introduction and background’
For more specific information about the Supergen hubs funded under Phase 3 of the Supergen Programme, how they were governed, how they fit together and what additional funding they achieved – please download ‘Supergen Phase 3 - Benchmarking’
Supergen Phase 4
Following the review of the Supergen Programme, EPSRC responded to the review recommendations via an Implementation plan. This formed the basis of the subsequent round of calls for Supergen hubs commissioned from 2017 onwards.
The panel made a series of recommendations of which the top six can be found below (EPSRC response in bold):
- The Supergen programme needs more resource for the core elements of hubs, enabling their Principal Investigators or Directors to act as strategic leaders for the whole field – EPSRC has increased and concentrated the funding. Leaders, in consultation with the research and stakeholder community, will decide how to divide funding and what areas of research to focus on.
- The initiation of a resourced communication plan to strengthen outreach and communications – All new hubs will have a hub manager to coordinate communications and outreach, and will be able to outsource to find staff with the appropriate skills.
- Hubs should adopt a whole energy systems approach to understand the potential opportunities of their technology and understand how it affects the system – All new hubs must think about their work in the context of the whole system and with the Government’s emerging Industrial Strategy in mind, and can use support from existing RCUK investments, such as UKERC, in this area.
- More collaboration is required across hubs in cross-cutting areas, and particularly through the incorporation of the research areas of decarbonising heating and low emission transport to rationalise current research activities – A central pot of flexible funding will be introduced for cross-hub challenges. The potential incorporation of the research areas of decarbonising heating and low emission transport will be considered in the next tranche of funding, due in 2018/19 following insights from the research community.
- Clustering hubs under aligned areas where synergies in technology exist should be considered; it would allow shared skills, transferable fundamental knowledge and learning about similar problems to be shared – The Wind and Marine hubs will be replaced by one Offshore Renewable Energy hub, following consultation with the research community. This will offer an opportunity for the new hub to look at synergies between wind, wave and tidal technologies as well as building on current research in each area.
- An equality and diversity (E&D) strategy should be embedded at the level of the Supergen programme to support early career researchers and improve the balance of protected characteristics (such as age, disability, gender and ethnic background), across the research communities – EPSRC wants the Supergen Programme to be a beacon for E&D and early career research support. Terms and conditions will be introduced to reflect the RCUK E&D plan and EPSRC’s work in this area.
In addition, all Phase 4 Supergen hubs will be required to broaden their remits to create a more multidisciplinary programme of research. To help achieve this, EPSRC has sought support from other Research Councils within Energy Programme (BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and STFC), both in terms of funding and linking to existing cross-council investments.
Find out more
For the full report from the independent review panel including all their findings and recommendations, please download the Supergen Programme Review 2016 .
For the current draft of the research community produced Supergen Programme Strategy, please download it here.