Greater Manchester has launched a unique collaboration between local government, the private sector and academic sectors to help meet its goal to become net-zero by 2038.
The Energy Innovation Agency, which was launched at an event in Bruntwood’s Circle Square development on Thursday 28 April, aims to bridge the innovation gap by bringing together critical players and creating a pathway for new ideas.
The Energy Innovation Agency is a unique collaboration between 8 key partners: Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), The Growth Company, Hitachi Europe, Bruntwood, SSE Enterprise, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford. Its aims are to attract innovators to Greater Manchester and to scale-up solutions, commercialise and encourage investment for green solutions.
The main focus areas of the agency will be decarbonisation of heat (from building retrofit to clean energy), energy generation and storage, low carbon transport and network flexibility and diversity to meet increased demand.
It’s hoped that the collaboration will transform energy consumption, making it more accessible and fairer for the people of Greater Manchester and beyond.
To celebrate the official launch of the Energy Innovation Agency, innovators and energy professionals gathered to discuss the obstacles faced in reaching net-zero targets along with potential solutions. Talking points included the innovation gap, issues in retrofitting, skills gaps, supply chains and timings, inclusivity, and the wider education of people around new technologies.
A panel discussion between key partners debated the need to be realistic about Greater Manchester’s current position and the necessity to look at the energy crisis holistically to accelerate much-needed change.
At the launch event, Peter Emery, CEO of Electricity North West and Chair of the Energy Innovation Agency said; “If we keep going at the same rate as we are, Greater Manchester will blow its carbon budget in six years. The political will is there but more action is needed. All carbon budgets are dangerously threatened. Providing clean, affordable and secure energy is under extreme stress. The Energy Innovation Agency adds a fresh dimension to innovation and Greater Manchester is the place to make this happen.”
One of the ways the Energy Innovation Agency hopes to attract innovators into Greater Manchester is through challenge events, where they will be invited to pitch their own solutions to specific issues. The first challenge was initiated at the Energy Innovation Agency’s Launch and focuses on the issue of non-domestic Retrofit, a priority area for the next year.
It’s estimated that around 80% of Greater Manchester’s current buildings will still be standing in 2050, and therefore, smarter retrofitting is urgently needed. However, with heritage status, currently occupied buildings and the new, more agile approach to working life it’s not a simple solution, which is why the agency is seeking help from local innovators.
Bev Taylor, Energy and Environment Director of Bruntwood said; “All new builds have sustainability at the heart, but this is less easy when retrofitting. No one size fits all and it takes time to get the right solution. People’s expectations of a modern workplace are changing, and along with the climate crisis, we can no longer do what we’ve always done. We need change now and I’m hoping the Energy Innovation Agency can speed this up.”