20 August 2019

Your weekly digest of policy news, funding competitions, and calls for evidence.

What’s been in the news?

 Fusion reactor

Boris Johnson praises UK’s fusion energy research

Recently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson toured the Culham’s Materials Research Facility – a major nuclear research laboratory facility - and gained an insight into its cutting-edge research into materials for nuclear reactors, including the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) Upgrade fusion experiment which is being used to design future fusion power reactors.  This trip reflected the UK’s potential to lead the energy sector and to deliver sustainable fusion energy, to provide cleaner ways to supply our increasing energy demand.

In the event of an upcoming ‘no-deal’ Brexit, this visit was indicative that the UK has the potential to be bold and take on the challenge to address the environmental crisis through the delivery of fusion reactors. As Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) Director Rob Buckingham reiterates, ‘what could be bolder than taking on the challenge of delivering fusion to address climate change.’

Mr Johnson concludes that with the new immigration reforms, he feels confident that UK will continue to lead ‘the world in this sector, thanks in significant part to the work of the UK Atomic Energy Authority… and continue to do so for many years to come.’

This visit shows the potential of nuclear fusion to work on the scale of a power plant and has enormous potential to become a long-term energy source that is environmentally responsible.  

 onshore wind

Request to overturn onshore wind policy

A coalition of 130 MPs have come together to alter the UK’s planning and energy policies, reinforcing that onshore wind energy is crucial in meeting climate targets and a 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target.

In a letter sent to the Prime Minister, the MPs highlight that the exclusion of onshore wind assets from the Government’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) process, a decision taken by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2015, needs to be withdrawn if the vision to meet net-zero is to be met.  A group of businesses from across the renewable energy sector put forward similar requests, reinforcing that in order for the UK to meet its 2050 net-zero goal, the UK must change its legislation calling for immediate action to be made.

The mounting pressure for this change to be made, has been fuelled by the public support for onshore wind, with 76% of UK adults supporting the generation method. However, despite the efforts to support the growth of onshore wind, Junior Business Minister Lord Henley has commented that there are no plans set in motion to change existing policies on onshore wind. 

 Half EU and half UK flag  

Will Brexit affect the UK’s science landscape?

One of the biggest challenges the UK science industry is facing is funding. Many projects rely on funding from the EU, and if the UK were to leave with a no-deal, scientific achievements and the availability of these grants are threatened.

Horizon 2020 is a major source of funding for the UK, and researchers who already have open applications for EU funding are concerned about their funding status. A statement from Downing Street has promised that if Horizon 2020 applications are stuck in the approval process once the UK leaves the EU without a deal, preparatory measures are placed to minimise disruption. In the event of ‘no deal’ scenario, the European Commission will continue to assess all UK applications. Successful applicants will then be funded by the government’s existing guarantee, committed to covering all successful UK Horizon 2020 bids – regardless of how the UK leaves the EU.

The UK might face a huge challenge if the industry fails to attract the most talented researchers and scientists to the UK, and likewise, the UK scientific community has a chance of being stifled by Brexit, inhibiting the UK from being actively involved in EU projects.

However, Johnson assured that measures will be taken to encourage the world’s top researchers and scientists to the UK, countering fears that Britain’s science enterprise might collapse, including a new fast-track visa route, allowing the most talented researchers to settle in the UK.

Read the full article, here.

Calls for evidence

Deadline: 16 September 2019

  • Electronic waste and the Circular Economy inquiry

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

  • Net zero government inquiry

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

  • The new farming programme inquiry

Deadline: Open

For Parliamentary Calls for Evidence please see the Parliament Committee page.

Deadline: 7 October 2019

Deadline: 25 September 2019

Funding competitions

Deadline: 30 October 2019

UK businesses can apply for up to a share of £6 million to work on quantum technology innovation projects.

Deadline: 18 September 2019

Organisations can apply for a share of £22m across three strands for early stage projects to help provide clean, affordable and secure energy in sub-Saharan Africa and/or South Asia.

Deadline: 25 September 2019

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £19 million for a chance to work on projects involved in developing supply chains for power electronics, machines and drives in the UK.

Deadline:  09 October 2019

Up to £3 million is available for organisations to apply for in order to help with developing technology to deliver improvements in the efficiency of local energy systems

Deadline: 9 October 2019

‘Seed corn’ funding of up to £50,000 is available to consortia of UK businesses and research          organisations for wave 2 of the UKRI Strength in Places Fund.

Deadline: 9 October 2019

‘Seed corn’ funding of up to £50,000 is available to consortia of UK businesses and research organisations for wave 2 of the UKRI Strength in Places Fund.

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