Two research centres for sustainable electrical and thermal energy technologies totalling £22m were launched at WMG, University of Warwick on the 10th June 2019. The funding from government via the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) sees UK Government, industry and higher education work together to shape the future of the UK’s energy landscape. The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is a £60m project funded by Innovate UK. ERA is working with UK government, industry and the higher education sector to undertake innovative research, develop the next generation of energy leaders, and demonstrate low carbon technologies that help shape the future of the UK’s energy landscape. ERA consists of eight internationally renowned Midlands universities – which includes the University of Warwick, who are part of the Midlands Innovation partnership, together with the British Geological Survey. Together they will explore the challenges of energy and electrification, with some of the thought leaders and innovators who are making changes in these areas. There will also be an opportunity to tour the new research facilities. WMG’s Energy Innovation Centre is a world-class facility for battery research from materials and electrochemistry to application integration and recycling/reuse. The £20m ERA investment has enabled new equipment and facilities, which include laboratories, a dry room for cell assembly, characterisation at cell, module and pack levels, innovative charging infrastructure and second-life evaluation facilities. It will drive the development, and scale-up of new battery chemistries from concept through to proven traction batteries. The School of Engineering’s Sustainable Thermal Energy Technologies group develops low carbon heating and cooling technologies. The £2m ERA funding has enabled the extension of the Thermal Properties Lab into five newly-refurbished test cells to accommodate additional equipment for analysing thermal properties of materials and the Thermal Technologies Lab has benefitted from new test equipment and control/data logging facilities. Professor Pam Thomas, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Warwick, comments: “The University of Warwick continues to produce innovative research in battery development and thermal energy, the funding means we can help research ways to tackle global challenges in areas such as energy and sustainability to help climate change for the UK’s and the world’s future.” Ian Meikle, Director of Clean Growth and Infrastructure at Innovate UK, adds: “We are very pleased to be able to support all of the state-of-the-art energy research facilities being developed through the Energy Research Accelerator programme. The investments being made by Innovate into ERA and other energy infrastructure and demonstration projects, will help the UK to stay at the forefront of energy research as we move towards a low carbon future.” Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Energy Research Accelerator, commented: “Over the coming years we are going to see a step change in the motor industry from the combustion engine to battery powered vehicles. With this investment from ERA and Innovate UK, the Midlands will continue to take the lead in the research, development and commercialisation of new battery technologies. “Our investment in the thermal labs here at Warwick is also significant, as the new facilities will enable researchers to work together with other ERA universities to develop innovative and efficient low carbon heating and cooling technologies.” Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands comments: “This world-leading research facility will further cement the West Midlands’ position at the cutting edge of innovation in technology and sustainability. “The region is already at the forefront of the development of electric vehicle efficiency, and now the ERA’s funding will enable us to make better use of electrification to reduce emissions and improve transport, making a real difference to the lives of people living and working in the West Midlands.” The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) ERA is a key programme within Midlands Innovation – a consortium of research intensive universities (universities of Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick), and the British Geological Survey (BGS), which has the overall aim of harnessing the Midlands’ combined research excellence and industry expertise to play a critical role in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the UK. Via Innovate UK, the government has committed an initial capital investment of £60m, and ERA has secured private sector co-investment of £120m. ERA’s initial priorities of Geo-Energy Systems, Integrated Energy Systems and Thermal Energy will help deliver the new technologies and behaviours that will open the avenues for its future development and demonstrate the transformative effect ERA can have across the energy spectrum.
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