Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: This creates opportunities for Wisconsin suppliers of innovative products or solutions for the energy sector to collaborate with UK companies involved in these initiatives and distributors that are actively seeking new technologies in this industry.
Energy efficiency and renewable energy are both key elements on the path to meeting UK and global climate goals. The UK Climate Change Act has targeted a reduction of CO2 emissions by 57 percent by 2050. The UK government’s Clean Growth Plan outlines support for offshore wind power and an increasing focus on energy efficiency, such as carbon capture and storage, increased use of electric vehicles, and developing innovative technologies for reducing energy demand and emissions from homes and businesses. In effect, the UK would be electrifying part of the energy demand it currently meets using fossil fuels.
According to newly released data by Carbon Brief, a website that specializes in climate and energy policy, low-carbon power sources accounted for more than half (53 percent) of all electricity generated in the UK last year, and overall power generation fell to its lowest level since 1994, despite the UK population increasing by 10 percent from 60 million to 66 million people.
Power Generation in the UK (2018)
Type % Contribution
Nuclear * 19
Wind * 17
Biomass * 11
Solar * 4
Hydro * 2
Carbon Brief: Analysis: UK electricity generation in 2018. * designates low-carbon sources
The reduction in demand is attributable to a variety of factors, including low-energy lightbulbs, energy-efficient appliances and a shift away from energy-intensive industries towards high-value manufacturing and services.
In December 2018, the UK government announced the establishment of a new research consortium and funding for business-led innovation projects to accelerate the uptake of smart energy systems by local communities to start benefiting from cleaner, cheaper and more consumer-friendly energy. Funding is provided by UK Research & Innovation and is part of the £102.5 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for clean energy, supporting industry and research to develop systems that drive the global move to renewable energy and energy efficiency. To date, approved projects include the creation of an energy marketplace, a solar farm energy park, and an innovative group exploring new digital technologies, sensing and control devices, data analytics and artificial intelligence.
This matters to Wisconsin companies—particularly those specializing in energy, power and control; advanced manufacturing and related technologies—because in the fall of 2015, the UK government committed to double energy innovation spending, such that it will reach over £400M per year by 2021. This funding will support innovation at the infrastructure, business and consumer levels, including innovative renewables, smart energy system technologies, and an increasingly innovative built (and retrofitted) environment. Innovation is driving the overall market, which is developing rapidly, and impacts currently underway include:
- The shift to high-value manufacturing, including automation, control systems, etc.
- Growing consumer awareness and demand for energy-saving devices and appliances
- Growing consumer utilization, particularly among millennials, of smart home devices and technologies
- A government fund of £184 million targeting R&D for the built environment and a £90 million fund stimulating innovation in low-carbon heating and energy-efficient options for UK homes. Improvements in the new-build homes and apartments include energy-efficient lighting and insulation materials, and sophisticated mechanical ventilation and heat recovery) systems
- Increased usage of smart electricity and water meters via public utilities and discounts for green energy
This creates opportunities for Wisconsin suppliers of innovative products or solutions for the energy sector to collaborate with UK companies involved in these initiatives and distributors that are actively seeking new technologies in this industry.