The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) will be part of one of the UK’s new Supergen Energy Hubs, which will involve collaborations between researchers, industry and policy-makers.
Three £5m energy research hubs - Offshore Renewable Energy, Bioenergy and Energy Networks have been announced this week. They are being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) together with Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
CEH terrestrial ecologist Dr Rebecca Rowe will be one of the co-investigators involved in the Supergen Bioenergy Hub. Bioenergy involves harnessing the energy stored in biomass (organic plant and animal material), such as crops, food waste or sewage, to provide a renewable and low carbon source of electricity and heat.
The overall aim of the hub is to to develop sustainable bioenergy systems that support the UK's transition to an affordable, resilient, low-carbon energy future.
Dr Rowe will join 10 other scientists from Aston, Manchester, Bath, Aberystwyth and Southampton universities and Imperial College London in the management of the hub, both delivering its research programme but also engaging with industry stakeholders and the wider academic community through workshops and flexible funding opportunities.
Dr Rowe, whose wider research focuses on meeting future demands for food and fuel while protecting the natural environment, said: “The hubs will aim to address technical and engineering barriers to providing sustainable energy. They are really important because not only will they enable research, they also have a clear focus on the delivery of solutions”
“There will be a strong relationship between scientists and industry, with researchers will be working with industrial stakeholders to understand what they need from the research community.”
In total, the three Supergen Energy Hubs will involve academics from 19 universities and 70 stakeholder partners including 22 from industry.
In addition to the hubs, there will also be a new £1m network in solar energy, bringing the total investment to £16m.