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Energy research within Midlands Innovation

The Midlands is at the heart of energy research in the UK, and the Midlands Innovation partnership boasts a range of world-class expertise in energy technologies.

The global need to move from a dependency from fossil fuels to renewables has never been more acute. The need for clean, affordable and secure energy, coupled with the applied skills to be able to deliver innovation is a national priority, and the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), has been established to help deliver a step change in energy innovation in the UK.

The purpose of ERA is to work with the UK government, industry and the higher education sector to undertake innovative research, develop the next generation of energy leaders and demonstration low carbon technologies that help to shape the future of the UK’s energy landscape.

A Midlands Innovation initiative, ERA is working to address the most pressing global energy challenges. Based on the four innovation themes of Energy Conversion, Energy Storage, Energy Distribution and Energy Use, ERA is finding new ways to address the issue of climate change through the development of renewable energy solutions and the reduction of carbon emissions.

The Energy Research Accelerator draws on the vast expertise of the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick, plus the British Geological Survey. Drawing on unrivalled facilities and numerous world-class academics, ERA is focused on finding solutions to the most pressing energy challenges, through research, the development of demonstrators and through training the next generation of energy researchers.

Outside of the ERA programme, the universities of Cranfield and Keele, also boast a range of world-leading facilities and demonstration projects in energy research, which are available for businesses to utilise.

sajid javid visit 40

Pictured above - Sir David Eastwood, University of Birmingham, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Martin Freer, University of Birmingham, Director of Birmingham Energy Institute and Sajid Javid, Home Secretary.

ERA initiatives

ERA is investing in a variety of projects across the Midlands and beyond. These include:

  • Trent Basin -  a community energy initiative which combines PV with the largest shared battery in Europe and the latest in smart technologies to provide a sustainable energy community.Trent Basin Ph1 -06417-072 copy
  • The GeoEnergy Test Bed – this project involves the drilling of deep boreholes and utilising new sensor and modelling techniques in order to improve the understanding of how Co2 interacts with different types of rocks when it is stored underground, and to trace the source of any leaks.
  • Thermo-Catalytic Reforming – this is a new technology which converts biomass and plastic waste into biofuels. This demonstrator is installed at the Tyseley Energy Park in Birmingham.
  • Energy Innovation Centre – a national centre for battery research based at Warwick University. ERA has invested £20m in new cutting-edge facilities.
  • Thermal Energy – ERA is investing in facilities in Birmingham, Loughborough, Warwick and the Manufacturing Technology Centre, to drive the development of thermal and cryo-energy technologies.
  • Research Acceleration and Demonstration (RAD) building – this houses a range of new equipment and facilities for research and testing a range of low carbon energy technologies
  • Hydrothermal Carbonisation (HTC) plant – ERA is working with industry to produce a commercial scale facility capable of converting biomass into next-generation solid fuels, having coal-like properties.
  • European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) – ERA is investing in new facilities at EBRI at Aston University. EBRI specialises in turning organic waste products into heat, power and electrical sources.EBRI_ERA PARR high-pressure reactor for hydrothermal liquefaction of biomass (ERA Doctoral Training Network student)

Cranfield and Keele universities

Cranfield and Keele universities are relatively recent additions to the Midlands Innovation network, and each has unique strengths in energy research:

  • Europe’s first ‘at scale’ Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND) is at Keele University. SEND is a living laboratory where new energy-efficient technologies can be researched, developed and tested in a real world environment.
  • Cranfield has unique industrial scale experimental facilities across many different kinds of energy systems. These include an ocean systems laboratory, gas turbines, an anaerobic digestion plant, and high temperature coating test facilities.

For more information about the energy research across Midlands Innovation, download the ERA brochure or visit the website www.era.ac.uk