CASE in call for applications to £4.5m green innovation fund

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THE Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy (CASE) at Queen's University has been chosen to manage a new round of the £4.5 million Green Innovation Challenge Fund (GICF), which is designed to help progress Northern Ireland along the path to net zero energy.

CASE, an industry-led collaborative sustainable energy research centre hosted at Queen’s and partnering with Ulster University and the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), will manage the fund on behalf of Stormont's Department for the Economy.

Earlier this year, after the first announcement of funding, CASE allocated £1m to four research projects involving Queen’s, UU, AFBI and 13 companies.

These projects will investigate the production of bio-fuels from waste cooking oil; develop new technology for marine mammal observations around tidal energy deployments and aid with the decarbonisation of the agriculture sector through innovative nutrient management.

CASE chair Trevor Haslett said: “Since it was established through the Invest NI competence centre programme, CASE has successfully bridged the gap between academic research offerings and industry research needs.

“Now we are seeking to go further and faster by being a facilitator to help alleviate the current energy crisis and move Northern Ireland further along the path to net zero.

“This next round of funding will help a range of projects move forward and add their expertise to the mix. We wish all of those who apply for funding every success.”

The fund, offering support of up to £375,000, aims to further the goals of the 10X Economic Vision and the energy strategy by:

• Encouraging green innovation in renewables and low carbon technologies;

• Providing support to businesses to engage in research and development so that they can continue to innovate and drive new commercial opportunities;

• Providing advisory services and support to assist companies in understanding innovation and developing their innovative capabilities;

• Assisting SMEs to gain the skills they need to engage in innovation activities;

• Assisting businesses to exploit new opportunities through the adoption of new technologies;

• Fostering collaboration and partnership working between industry, academia and other civic institutions.

Economy minister Gordon Lyons said: “I welcome the success of the initial pilot of the GICF, meaning we have been able to directly fund support for research and innovation to develop proposals from businesses on low carbon technologies helping to place us at the forefront of the energy transition.

“As recent global events have illustrated, the issue of securing an indigenous supply of low carbon or zero emission energy is more critical than ever. Diversifying our energy mix with new technologies in green hydrogen or developing low carbon synthetic alternatives to our everyday liquid fuels will increase our efficiency and move us forward on the path to be a zero carbon economy.”

CASE is seeking applications by October 14 (more details at from suitably qualified consortia for research and development funding to support the decarbonisation of the energy system. Proposals are sought research areas in:

• Ocean energy – wave, tidal, offshore wind, floating solar

• Bio-energy – anaerobic digestion, biogas production, upgrading and bio-fuel production

• Energy systems – community / local energy, grid stabilisation, ancillary and distribution system operator services, demand side management, integrated supply chains and Power-to-X