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ERA Vision - More than minutes

Of the challenges identified, Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI) explained that heating and cooling is going to be the biggest global energy challenge to face. This is because current methods of heating and cooling is energy intensive and used globally to supply food, medicine and data as well as temperature control buildings. Making the delivery of cold and cooling in a smarter and cleaner way is of critical importance.

To overcome this challenge the BEI, in partnership with Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and others, is aiming to drive the development of thermal and cryogenic energy storage technologies that will make buildings work smarter about the ways they consume thermal energy.

The project fits into a wider plan by the Greater Birmingham city-region to create five Energy Innovation Zones (EIZs) and become a global “energy capital” for innovating energy systems by creating a low-carbon infrastructure that modernises how it deals with waste. (Dan Robinson:  

These EIZs will create a low carbon infrastructure, they will stimulate clean energy innovation to drive productivity, exports and growth. Unlike existing approaches, they will work not only to demonstrate new technologies, but also to turn them into fully commercial propositions.

David Horsfall, Director of Tyseley Energy Park  provided an insight into the Tyseley and Birmingham EIZ. This EIZ will help Birmingham overcome the severe energy, business and social challenges it currently faces. These include electricity grid constraints, poor air quality, unemployment, and having one of the worst cases of energy poverty in the UK. The TEP EIZ will reduce emissions and stimulate growth by integrating low carbon technologies to develop the business models and infrastructure needed to support new approaches to clean energy.

The conference also included key note speeches from Steve Holliday, Incoming President of the Energy Institute and former CEO of the National Grid; Rob Saunders, Innovate UK and Director of the Prospering from the Energy Revolution Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund; and Robert Llewellyn, host of the 'Fully Charged' electric vehicle YouTube channel. ERA Vision also featured panel discussions and presentations from ERA PhD students and doctoral researchers from ERA’s partner universities.

For a full summary of the event and to download a copy of the presentations please visit