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RCUK programmes highlighted at the first India-UK bilateral energy dialogue

19/04/2017

The UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, led the first India-UK bilateral Energy Dialogue ‘Energy for Growth’, on 6-7 April 2017 in New Delhi.

The UK and Indian ministers’ statement emphasised the vital importance of research and innovation on energy and reaffirmed their governments’ commitment to continued excellence with impact in this area. They welcomed wide-ranging jointly funded Research Councils UK projects, spanning solar energy, and a Joint Virtual Centre on Clean Energy with India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), and bioenergy with India’s Department of Biotechnology. They also noted the long-running collaboration in civil nuclear energy research with India’s Department of Atomic Energy.

A roundtable on energy innovation and research started a series of discussions over the two days encompassing investment in the UK, green finance, utilities for the future, oil and gas. It brought together business, academia, funding bodies and policy makers to learn from the strong collaborations how to enhance the impact from future work. Appropriately, the discussions were co-chaired by RCUK and Innovate UK from the UK, and DST and the Confederation of Indian Industry from India. Lead researchers from a number of successful India-UK projects shared insights from their work:

The discussion revealed that opportunities in renewable energy work with India are quantitatively huge and qualitatively different from past energy industries. Renewable Energy technology can create jobs and value-added services as well as empower and transform lives. India has opportunities to turn challenges (such as waste) into circular economic growth, and the UK has unique strengths in interdisciplinary research and systems thinking. Together they can show global leadership in next generation energy.

India is committed towards clean energy and plans to double its relevant R&D investment within three years. Many of the key issues are socio-technical, requiring understanding of new technology, behaviours and business models. Bringing business and academic research together at the start has been central to success so far and bringing the Research Councils and Innovate UK together in UK Research and Innovation should strengthen this. Recent models for collaboration were welcomed, especially the Joint UK-India Clean Energy Centre between DST and RCUK, the DBT and BBSRC collaboration on sustainable bioenergy and the Collaborative Industrial R&D programme between Global Innovation & Technology Alliance (for DST) and Innovate UK.

India and the UK are building on years of research and innovation collaboration in energy. Energy lies at the intersection of global and industrial challenges, and research and innovation is one of the cornerstones of the UK-India relationship. In Prime Minister Modi’s speech at the India-UK Tech Summit in November 2016, he said: “India-UK cooperation in science and technology is driven by ‘high quality’ and ‘high impact’ research partnerships. ... I believe that India and the UK must continue to nurture and support an ecosystem of high quality fundamental research to pave the way for joint technology development that can address global challenges.”

The RCUK India energy research portfolio has grown to a co-investment of around £70 million worth of completed and ongoing projects. In addition, the UK Research Councils with DST are currently assessing projects for funding under the £7.6 million programme on Energy Demand Reduction, through the Newton-Bhabha Fund, that the two Prime Ministers committed in November 2016.

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