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Warwick leads £3.7m project to power progress towards greener energy supply

The University of Warwick is leading a £3.7 million project to help ensure the UK has secure, environmentally-friendly and affordable power for future generations.

Professor Jihong Wang from the School of Engineering at Warwick will head a diverse team of experts looking at the technology and economics of energy storage thanks to a new £3 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme.

Energy storage is vital to maintaining a healthy balance between supply and demand when green technologies such as wind power come online over the next few decades.

Professor Jihong Wang said: “I am very excited to be at the helm of this important research project.

“Energy storage is absolutely key to ensuring we have a secure, affordable and environmentally-friendly power network in the UK over the next few decades.

“The UK’s power network needs a delicate balance between supply and demand – if there is a mismatch, this may cause the entire system to crash, causing blackouts.

“With coal and gas-fired power stations these can be fired up or down to respond to changes in demand – but introducing renewable energies such as wind power can make the system less responsive.

“Improvements in energy storage are therefore vital to ensure the grid keeps running smoothly as renewable energy generation increases.

“This is why this EPSRC-funded project will unite experts across the fields of engineering, economics and mathematics to work out ways to improve the UK’s energy storage capacity.”

Energy security is a key area of research for the University of Warwick.

The field makes up one of its Global Priorities Programme themes which have been set up to channel its academic expertise towards addressing the world’s challenges.

Professor Phil Mawby, academic lead on the University of Warwick’s Energy Global Priorities Programme, said: Over the next few decades the UK will have to face up to shrinking domestic fossil fuel reserves, an increased reliance on imports as well as the planned retirement of around 25 per cent of its energy generation capacity.

“Add to that our ambitious targets to reduce CO2 emissions as well as future projected increases in energy demand, it is clear we have to act urgently to ensure the country’s energy security.

“This is why the University of Warwick has chosen to prioritise research into energy security under the Global Priorities Programme.

 “Being selected by the EPSRC for this multi-million pound research project is a further endorsement of the growing reputation of the Warwick research community in the energy area.”

The project entitled Integrated Market-fit and Affordable Grid-scale Energy Storage (IMAGES) is a consortium made up of three higher education institutions namely, Warwick, the University of Nottingham and the University of Loughborough and involves academics from the disciplines of Engineering, Business Studies, Maths and Economics.

The fourth core partner includes experts from NERC British Geological Survey. In addition, the project receives significant backing from 13 industrial partners.

Alongside Professor Wang, the team at Warwick will include Professor Michael Waterson, Professor Phil Mawby, Professor Robert MacKay and Professor Robert Critoph.

The energy research expertise and facilities at the University of Warwick benefit from a multi-million pound investment in the Science City Research Alliance (SCRA).

SCRA unites the University of Warwick and the University of Birmingham in a long-term strategic research partnership around the themes of Energy Efficiency, Advanced Materials and Translational Medicine.


Notes to editors

To speak to Professor Wang or Professor Mawby, please call University of Warwick press officer Anna Blackaby on 02476 575910 or 07885 433155

SCRA is a strategic research partnership between the University of Warwick and the University of Birmingham with a specific remit to work with businesses across the region. It has benefited from a multi-million pound investment in equipment and research infrastructure across both institutions via Birmingham Science City.

Birmingham Science City is a region-wide partnership of public sector, businesses and the research base, which is facilitating the use of science and technology to improve the quality of life and prosperity of the West Midlands. Funded by Advantage West Midlands, Birmingham Science City’s aim is to create strategies to exploit centres of world-class scientific research, by developing relevant activities for sustainable economic and social benefit.

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