On Thursday 12th July, Low Carbon South West and the University of Bath the second in a series of workshops for the European Regional Development Funded STBAH (Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub) programme, a project providing free bespoke support and coaching to start-ups and scale-ups in the West of England that is open to growth businesses in all sectors interested in developing low carbon or sustainable technologies.

The event was entitled Low Carbon Innovation in Energy Systems and was chaired by Peter Keevil, Entrepreneur in Residence, who welcomed guests to Bath Innovation Centre and gave a brief introduction to the STBAH programme before handing over to the morning’s first speaker.

Prof. Furong Li, Director, Centre for Sustainable Power Distribution, University of Bath, opened with an informative discussion entitled ‘From Economy of Scale to Economy of Flexibility – Low Carbon Opportunities’. She discussed the move from a passive network which is slow to react to change to a vision of a more active, intelligent energy system, also discussing how to ensure that renewables thrive in a subsidy-free, flexible environment. Prof. Li shared the research being undertaken by the University of Bath regarding substation data analysis and their involvement in the Solar Bristol project before ending by highlighting the need to move from a macro fossil fuels-reliant Economy of Scale system to a micro, renewables focused Economy of Sharing system.

Next up, we welcomed Oliver Spink, Network Strategy Engineer for Western Power Distribution. Oliver spoke about the challenges and opportunities associated with transitioning from WPD’s role as a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to a Distribution System Operator (DSO). He highlighted the challenges of passive networks, the significance of embedded generation and forecasts for future growth scenarios. Download the Distribution System Operability Framework here.

We then welcomed Peter Dennis, Smart Grid Aggregation Analyst from Ecotricity, who discussed the impact of grid operators actions on trying to create a low carbon power environment. He reviewed ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ of subsidies such as ROCs, FiTs and CfDs before discussing Ecotricity’s approach to energy generation in a post-subsidy world. Peter highlighted the company’s recent partnership with Kraftwerke where they will be looking at connecting decentralised units and concluded by detailing how event attendees might get involved with Ecotrcity’s work in this area.

The final presentation, ‘Sustainability and Funding Opportunities’ was delivered by Sarah Eager, Innovate UK’s Innovation Lead – Smart Infrastructure. Sarah presented the different funding opportunities available to attendees, in particular the July 2018 open competition open to SMEs, Energy Catalyst – Round 6, EV Competition One: Wireless Charging for Commercial Vehicles, EV Competition Two: Electric Vehicle Charging for Public Spaces and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: Smart local energy systems.

These presentations were followed by an open panel discussion entitled “How to Fund It!” where Sarah Eager was joined by Dr Jim Totty, Managing Partner, Sustainable Technology Investors Limited, St. John Hughes, Avenir Energy and Dr. Izaro Lopez Garcia, Industrial Partnerships Manager, University of Bath. The panel discussion enabled attendees to address any specific questions they still had about the funding opportunities available including the ERDF funded STBAH programme. The event closed with a very lively networking buffet lunch!

As part of the workshop series, it is hoped that businesses will sign up to the STBAH programme where bespoke business support and coaching is available to businesses in low carbon innovation across the West of England. The support is free and funded by the European Regional Development Fund. More information is available at the STBAH website.

Spaces are still available for the next free workshop on 24th July entitled; “The Journey to Carbon Neutrality” – more information and details on how to secure your place can be found here.

We would like to offer sincere thanks to the speakers for their in-depth and enlightening presentations, and also a huge thank you to all attendees – we hope you found it worthwhile and came away with some useful insights.

Author: Katherine Piper