Centrica Innovations will “incubate and accelerate” new energy technologies in attempt to boost growth across the business
British Gas owner Centrica has launched a new innovations unit that will invest up to £100m in new energy technologies, including clean energy start-ups.
Centrica Innovations (CI) will “identify, incubate and accelerate new technologies and innovations” in a bid to boost growth and innovation across the Centrica business, the energy giant said yesterday.
It will invest up to £100m over the next five years in new start-ups developing innovative technologies for smart homes, energy supply and distributed power, with key “scout hubs” to be established in Seattle, Houston, London, Cambridge and Tel Aviv.
Iain Conn, group chief executive of Centrica, said the launch of CI is an important step towards identifying the changing needs of energy customers. “The new venture will ensure innovation is embedded across our business and will allow us to invest in the technologies that can support our customers into the future,” he said in a statement. “As the government launches an Industrial Strategy with technology and R&D at its heart, Centrica is focused on delivering a smarter energy future for the UK.”
Centrica said it hopes the move will give the firm “access to technology and entrepreneurial capability and resources”. The venture builds on its existing social entrepreneurship fund Ignite, which has invested £10m in enterprises. Ignite will now sit inside CI, Centrica confirmed.
In related news, Centrica is poised to start construction on a new £180m, 49MW battery storage facility at Roosecote, Cumbria next month.
The battery facility, touted as one of the world’s largest battery storage facilities, was approved in December 2016 under a £180m investment programme from the British Gas owner into energy storage and gas-fired power plants across the UK.
Once the facility is up and running – expected in winter 2018 – it will be able to hold enough power to meet the needs of around 50,000 homes. Centrica said it is currently looking for installation, construction and ancillary service firms to assist its construction.
The news coincides with the publication of a report today from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) warning the costs of the low-carbon energy transition are set to increase substantially unless “urgent” action is taken to integrate greater flexibility into the UK power system.
Electricity systems and markets must adapt and be re-optimised to incorporate large proportions of variable renewable generation, the researchers said, via demand managing technologies such as demand-side response and battery storage.