UKERC awarded £1.5M to establish Networking Fund for Energy Research Community

03 Apr 2017

The UK Energy Research Centre has been awarded £1.5 million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop and deliver a Whole Systems Networking Fund, aimed at improving communications and collaboration between whole systems energy researchers and those engaged in  more disciplinary focussed areas of research.

UKERC was invited to lead and develop the fund proposal on behalf of the resarch community following consultations with senior academics funded by the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, including Directors of Supergen hubs and End Use Energy Demand Centres. The fund has four objectives:

  1. To improve the connections and collaborations between the research communities engaged in whole systems energy research and those engaged in more specific research
  2. To provide mechanisms for collaboration that encourage diversity, with a particular emphasis on providing opportunities for early career researchers
  3. To identify and learn lessons from best practice within the UK and internationally
  4. To work with policy, business and civil society to identify opportunities for wider engagement and impact

UKERC will be holding a series of roadshows across the UK to promote the fund and outline its desired outcomes and evaluation criteria, and launching an open call in August, to be followed by a large projects call in October. The fund will be governed by a steering group of representatives from the UK energy research community.

Professor Jim Watson, UKERC’s Director, comments:

‘Despite the increasing attention paid to interdisciplinarity within the energy research portfolio, there is a need for further action to ensure that an energy systems perspective is reflected in the portfolio as a whole. This fund will provide opportunities for those working on detailed, specific research into particular technologies, or within particular disciplines, to explore how their research relates to the whole energy system. It will also support researchers who focus on the whole energy system, and help them to make better use of insights from more specific research.

Dr. Mike Weston, UKERC’s Operations Director, adds: ‘This new fund will build on UKERC’s strong track record of drawing the energy research community together to work on areas of strategic importance. In addition to building capacity within that community, fund activities will be strongly encouraged to engage with policy, industry and other audiences’.

Kathryn Magnay, Head of Energy at EPSRC, comments: ‘Understanding whole systems in the energy sector is a priority for the RCUK Energy Programme but we recognise that most researchers will not be operating at a systems level. It is increasingly important that researchers across the energy remit understand the whole systems context their research will be operating within. This fund is an opportunity to build awareness and understanding across the wider energy community, UKERC is uniquely placed to deliver this fund and we hope that by working in collaboration with our large Energy Centres such as Supergens and EUED Centres their reach into contributing disciplines will be maximised’.

To receive updates about the Whole Systems Energy Networking Fund, or for further information, please email lindsay.wright@ukerc.ac.uk. You can also follow us on Twitter @UKERCHQ and keep an eye on our website, www.ukerc.ac.uk , where key dates and timeframes will be announced.

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 [MJW1]Trying to find the right words to say that we are leading but it’s driven by the community.