As the sun sets on 2017, and the new year just around the corner, here's Connected Energy's pre-Christmas reminder of this month's top trends and themes.
It may be a couple of weeks old now, but the Industrial Strategy white paper remains the most important document ever for UK cleantech, the flexible grid, and our path to future innovation.
EDIE reports the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will set £725m aside over the next 3 years. Battery storage will take up £246m of that investment, with a £45m competition in place to establish a battery research centre.
Moreover, with regard to infrastructure, the Government has pledged to invest £400m in EV charging points and a further £100m to extend the plug-in car grant, as first revealed in the Chancellor’s Budget.
A further £20bn will help support innovative and high-potential businesses, with £2.5bn going towards a new Investment Fund.
The shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills will be addressed with a £406m fund, while the launch of a £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund will aim to improve connectivity, reduce congestion and introduce new mobility services.
It's all extremely positive news. Greenpeace UK’s Head of Energy Hannah Martin is reported as saying:
“Ministers are right to recognise clean energy as a top priority for British industry and regional regeneration. It’s a sector that holds enormous potential for technological breakthroughs, job creation and boosting productivity.
“Britain's economy needs a clean, flexible, and affordable energy system. And it needs to give people clean air by speeding up the end of diesel vehicles. A system led by offshore wind, smart technology, battery storage and electric vehicles will make that happen.”
Crucially, an independent Industrial Strategy Council will be launched next year to hold Ministers to account over progress; something we hope will keep them on their feet, and alive to the urgency of implementation and action. We will report on that next year.
The Independent said UK business groups gave a broadly positive welcome to the Government’s new white paper.
Its only caveat is that The Office for Budget Responsibility severely downgraded its productivity growth forecasts for the UK last week.
Some commentators think this scenario could impact on the Strategy's ability to generate true change; simply because economic conditions may not favour investment, research and the risk-taking that is needed to grow a new kind of cleaner, more flexible grid and economy.
Nonetheless, The Financial Times called the UK's new industrial strategy a ‘breakthrough moment’.
All in all, there's a huge amount of positivity in the white paper, the Budget and the Clean Growth Strategy.
More than ever, 2018 must see businesses and Government run with these themes.
The overarching vibe is a positive one, however. These commitments represent a meaningful step change towards cleantech, flexible, low carbon energy and innovation and of course offer plenty of opportunity for high-value jobs too.
You could say, a low carbon, resilient and sustainable world is what we really want for Christmas!
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