On Thursday 18 October, representatives from the Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI), Tyseley Energy Park (TEP), Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), Mobus Waste and Recycling Services and the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) were delighted to welcome the Executive Director for Government Communications, Alex Aiken to the University of Birmingham.
Alex had expressed an interest in the innovations coming out of the BEI and in particular how it was supporting the region to develop thinking for a new low carbon energy future. The tour, led by Dr David Boardman, BEI Deputy Director, began at the Cryogenic Energy Storage plant which is integrated into the University energy system. The plant works by using renewable energy to compress air into a liquid state that can be stored as a cryogenic liquid. When the energy is required at peak times the cryogenic liquid is re-gasified and this expansion drives a turbine. David explained that when scaled up this grid-scale storage capability helps the electricity grid cope with the intermittency of supply associated with renewable energy.
Director of TEP, David Horsfall, then went on to share his plans for driving industrial growth alongside the green technologies sector. David detailed how collaborative partnerships with experts from academia, government and industry will lead to TEP helping to shape the way the City develops infrastructure for renewable heat and power, energy storage, clean transport fuels and advanced waste processing.
Following this, Professor Martin Freer, Director of the BEI shared the institute’s plans for regional energy innovation. He briefed Alex about our partnership with ERA and its work surrounding thermal energy technology. He highlighted the importance of the work we are doing with innovators to develop their manufacturing capability highlighted by the £10m Factory in a Box demonstrator programme. Discussions then led to our work on the Energy Capital Energy Innovation Policy Commission. The commission made the case for four Energy Innovations Zones across the region that would to drive the development of new energy systems and decarbonise the energy and transportation systems.
The meeting concluded with representatives from Aston University explaining how their European Bioenergy Research Institute has helped local businesses develop bioenergy and energy systems solutions. Oliver Lloyd, Managing Director of Modus Waste and Recycling Services, then went on to detail how he was able to set up his recycling business with the support of EBRI.
Reflecting on the visit Alex Aiken said: "It was fascinating and inspiring to visit Birmingham during the first ever Green GB week, and hear about the plans Birmingham has to become the clean green energy capital of the UK."