Technology and innovation

The solutions for many energy and environmental challenges are dependent upon long-term technical progress and innovation in the energy sector. Policies and regulation to support research and development and the commercial deployment of new energy technologies are essential in order to meet these challenges.

In our work, we focus on building a better understanding of the impact of regulation and liberalised energy markets on innovation and technology deployment. We also look at technology policy and technology choice in the UK and internationally.

Our research in this area

Appropriate government support for R&D in the energy sector is crucial if technical progress and innovation are to be achieved. Understanding the long-term impact of regulation and market liberalisation on R&D will help us to assess current technology policies and identify any areas in need of change.

Topics under this theme include:

  • the impact of regulation and liberalisation on R&D and innovation
  • the role of R&D in supporting the transition to a low-carbon energy system
  • new energy technologies and appropriate levels of R&D support

Deploying new energy technologies often requires suitable support mechanisms. In our work, we evaluate existing and new mechanisms with a view to understanding their operation and the extent to which experience is transferable to other countries.

Exploring the effects of learning on future technology costs is also an important area and has the potential to greatly contribute to policy analysis.

Topics under this theme include:

  • support mechanisms for commercial technology deployment
  • international technology cooperation
  • theory and application of learning rates to energy technologies

This section analyses the potential for low-carbon generation alternatives including renewables, nuclear power, and carbon capture and storage technologies and the role that policy can play in the conception, implementation and regulation of these technologies. In order to meet energy needs and reach the goal of a less carbon-intensive economy, the evolving energy mix requires choices to be made between different energy technologies, ranging from nuclear technology to renewables. For those low-carbon technologies that are not currently cost competitive, decisions need to be taken as to the mechanisms needed to incentivise and ultimately commercialise the technologies.

Amongst the topics covered are:

  • nuclear renaissance
  • carbon capture and storage (including financing, capture ready, assembling the CCS value chain)
  • renewables: solar (both CSP and PV), wind (onshore and offshore), tidal
  • public communications of new technologies