Bid for £29m clean energy research programme in East Anglia passes key milestone

Published by  Communications

On 13th Aug 2020

Offshore wind turbines

The region’s most prominent energy, marine and environmental science research centres, together with regional business, are partnering on a new collaborative bid, which will bring three world-leading research organisations together for the first time and could bring an economic boost to the region.

The £29m bid for the ‘Suffolk & Norfolk Research & Innovation on the Sustainable Energy Coast’, or ‘SuNRISE Coast’ for short, will further enhance East Anglia as a clean energy powerhouse for the UK and promote economic and environmental sustainability.

It has passed the first stage of the Strength in Places Fund, a UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) flagship fund designed to invest in innovation-led regional growth, building on established local research strengths and industry collaboration to generate economic impact and high-value jobs. 

SuNRISE Coast is led by UEA (University of East Anglia), working with the UK’s Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), whose headquarters are in Lowestoft, and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, which opened a new office at OrbisEnergy, also in Lowestoft, last year. 

These world-leading research organisations will work in partnership with the East of England Energy Group (EEEGR), the regional industry body and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). If successful, this will be the first major project bringing these three world leading research organisations together in collaboration with industry. 

The unique characteristics of the Southern North Sea, off the East Anglian coast, create a favourable environment for offshore and coastal energy developments leading to an unparalleled diversity of energy sector companies. 

As a result, it is an ideal exemplar for the energy transition, with natural gas and offshore wind players already co-operating on shared data observatories, offshore training and logistics, and opportunities for a future that includes hydrogen production at scale; fish nurseries and biodiversity havens; e-lighthouses for navigation of autonomous vessels; pioneering new ‘aqua-tech’ solutions; better co-ordinated management and regulatory frameworks and much more. 

In addition, the programme will address important issues of environmental sustainability and diversity and explore new opportunities for improving the health of the Southern North Sea. The five-year SuNRISE Coast programme is designed to address key industry, business and environmental challenges, enabling research and development of novel solutions and generating commercial opportunity to drive clean growth in the region.

UKRI’s feedback on the first stage submission highlighted the region’s diversity in energy generation, with a mixture of offshore wind, gas and nuclear, that could benefit from greater integration and collaboration between research centres and industry. 

The UKRI panel recognised the application’s high quality, which was considered ‘highly innovative’.

Prof Fiona Lettice, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation at UEA, said: “Our SuNRISE Coast programme focuses on the Sustainable Energy Coast of Suffolk and Norfolk, a key area for growth and deployment of new low carbon and renewable energy technologies, and the largest provider of the UK’s energy.

“We have brought together some of the country’s leading research bodies, combining local research and business strengths to enable the economic and environmentally sustainable development of the Southern North Sea, supporting growth, employment and billions of pounds of new investment.”

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said: "We are backing our innovators and with the support they need to turn great ideas into first-class industries, products and technologies. The pioneering projects we are funding today will help create jobs and boost skills across the UK as we continue to drive forward our economic recovery.”

David Carlin, Science Director at Cefas, said: “The coast off East Anglia is of national significance, not only for natural gas and renewable energy production, but aquaculture, fishing, marine sciences, and much more. 

“Cefas is delighted to be strengthening our existing relationship with UEA and partnering with ORE Catapult, EEEGR, and regional industry partners. Over £20m has been invested in developing our new marine science research campus in Lowestoft which will act as a key innovation asset working with our research and industry communities.”

Dr. Stephen Wyatt, Research & Disruptive Innovation Director at ORE Catapult, said: “ORE Catapult works to bridge the gap between industry and academia, translating applied research to match real industry need. Working with key research and industry bodies in the East Anglia region will enable us to address some of the significant opportunities and challenges facing the UK’s growing offshore renewable energy industry, to enable us to meet our net-zero targets and kick-start the green economic recovery.

“We saw a critical need for ORE Catapult to be on the ground amongst the innovation community in East Anglia and established our presence in 2019, with the support of New Anglia LEP. We recognised the pivotal role that the region continues to play as a leading offshore energy cluster, with innovative companies at its centre, supported by key research and scientific partners, and port infrastructure.” 

Simon Gray, Chief Executive of EEEGR, said: “Our members are working across offshore gas, renewables and nuclear, with more than 50 years of expertise in offshore and marine operations. 

“The future energy system will require a more integrated and joined approach on the road to net-zero, which will help to maximise the innovation and business opportunities for regional businesses and organisations.”

Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia LEP, said: “Innovation and the translation of research in commercial opportunity are key drivers of economic growth and the proposed SuNRISE Coast programme offers a significant opportunity to build on our existing clean energy research and innovation strengths across our Universities, Cefas and ORE Catapult’s new Lowestoft facility.

“Our region is in an excellent position to benefit from investment in, and growing demand for, clean energy and the Norfolk and Suffolk Local Industrial Strategy affirms our commitment to leading the way as the UK’s clean growth region.”

The programme development is being supported by leading clean energy expert, Johnathan Reynolds, Managing Director at Opergy Ltd., who also chairs the Norfolk and Suffolk Innovation Board. 

For more information and to get involved, contact Business@uea.ac.uk

Latest News

  News
Tall rainforest trees
18 Oct 2021

Dr Nem Vaughan awarded Philip Leverhulme prize

The prestigious award recognises outstanding researchers.

Read more >
  News
Ziggurats and trees on UEA campus
15 Oct 2021

UEA’s great outdoors celebrated for a fifth straight year with international Green Flag award

The last 18 months have placed more value on green spaces than ever, and students arriving at the University of East Anglia (UEA) for the new academic year can...

Read more >
  News
Power station chimney emitting smoke
12 Oct 2021

How recovery from COVID-19’s impact on energy demand could help meet climate targets

New research examines different scenarios of energy-related demand and how they could impact climate mitigation targets.

Read more >
  News
House in Brazilian Amazonia.
07 Oct 2021

Study reveals impact of wild meat consumption on greenhouse gas emissions

Consuming sustainably sourced wild meat instead of domesticated livestock reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
House in Brazilian Amazonia.
07 Oct 2021

Study reveals impact of wild meat consumption on greenhouse gas emissions

Consuming sustainably sourced wild meat instead of domesticated livestock reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more >
  News
29 Sep 2021

Could Vitamin-A bring back your sense of smell after Covid?

Researchers at the University of East Anglia and James Paget University Hospital are launching a new project to see whether Vitamin A could help people regain...

Read more >
  News
27 Sep 2021

Children who eat more fruit and veg have better mental health

Children who eat a better diet, packed with fruit and vegetables, have better mental wellbeing – according to new research from the University of East Anglia...

Read more >
  News
27 Sep 2021

Amazonian protected areas benefit both people and biodiversity

Highly positive social outcomes are linked to biodiversity efforts in Amazonian Sustainable-Use Protected Areas, according to new research from the University of...

Read more >
  News
25 Sep 2021

How rabbits help restore unique habitats for rare species

European wild rabbits are a ‘keystone species’ that hold together entire ecosystems – according to researchers at the University of East Anglia.

Read more >
  News
24 Sep 2021

Ageing the unageable: UEA researchers develop new way to age lobsters

Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have identified a way of determining the age of a lobster based on its DNA.

Read more >
  News
22 Sep 2021

New research reveals credit rating agencies responded too slowly to Covid-19

Sluggish response of credit rating agencies in assessing sovereign creditworthiness during the pandemic may have led to mispriced sovereign debt.

Read more >