A new Energy Innovation Agency (EIA) to be established between three Greater Manchester universities, local government and industry was announced on 24th September with the aim of kick-starting a decade of clean energy innovation to meet the region’s 2038 carbon neutral target.
The proposal to form the unique new local agency was announced at the Greater Manchester Green Summit. The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Salford will apply their energy and environmental research expertise working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and SSE Enterprise to ensure Manchester continues to lead on ambitious regional environmental innovation and action.
Professor Colette Fagan, Vice-President for Research, The University of Manchester said: “The establishment of the Greater Manchester Energy Innovation Agency is a great example of collaboration between our universities, local government and industry partners to lead through commitment, innovation and action for the benefit of society and our environment.
“Linking the decarbonisation agenda to economic growth through innovation is key to achieving net zero carbon. Bringing together Greater Manchester’s environmental research expertise in this new agency with the encouragement of GMCA is a significant and exciting step toward achieving a greener future.”
The vision for the Energy Innovation Agency is to lead the transition to zero carbon society and economy by bridging the innovation gap, leading to an acceleration of emissions reductions, increased implementation of technological innovations and enhanced, forward-thinking policy agenda setting.
Stephen Stead, Director of Strategy and Digital Services, SSE Enterprise said: “The North West is one of the fastest growth areas in Europe with significant investment planned and world class environmental research output. SSE Enterprise is very excited to be part of this prestigious project which will see GMCA, its 10 local authorities and its world class universities lead the way in large scale decarbonisation.
“SSE brings vast experience in developing localised energy systems, innovative technology solutions and a ‘whole system thinking’ approach to support GMCA drive for cleaner and more affordable energy, high value jobs and a clear focus on net zero carbon by 2038.”
Professor Helen Marshall, Vice Chancellor, The University of Salford said: “We are proud to be part of the new GM Energy Innovation Agency, which represents a new step forward in the Greater Manchester universities, industry and Combined Authority all working together towards solving a critical problem for the city-region; achieving zero carbon by 2038.
“Combining our own research excellence in energy and buildings, such as our major investment in Energy House 2.0, with the other GM universities research excellence in the field of energy, we can lead the way in the decarbonisation agenda and create the clean, high value jobs and businesses that this agenda has the potential to bring.”
The new agency will act as an intermediary between the region’s world class environmental research output, industry innovators, the energy supply pipeline and stakeholders in Greater Manchester, to close the current innovation gap to zero carbon – delivering a transformation of our energy system.
Professor Steve Decent, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University said: “Our priority is to help Greater Manchester improve energy access and security of energy supply in socially, technically and economically convenient conditions. The University fully supports the Energy Innovation Agency vision in that it will create conditions incorporating clean energy resources and innovative technologies.
“Strengthened collaboration and research between academic institutions and industry will move us towards an energy transition that is completely focused on investing in a future that will support commitments of the region to become carbon neutral by 2038”
While the UK Government set a binding target of 2050 to achieve net zero carbon, Greater Manchester set its own more ambitious 2038 deadline to decarbonise its energy system. The EIA will be a significant contributing factor in aiming to reach the aspirational target in the hope the area can be a pace-setter for the rest of the country.
Councillor Andrew Western, GMCA Lead for the Green City-Region, said: “Tackling the transition to a zero carbon society is going to take a group effort. The combined insight of Greater Manchester’s universities, industry partners and GMCA will enable us to work together to achieve this goal.
“We’re already making good progress towards the goals of our Five-Year Environment Plan, which alongside achieving decarbonisation, also includes improving air quality, protecting the natural environment and building resilience to climate change. By establishing partnerships such as the GM Energy Innovation Agency we are in a much better position to support our commitment to become carbon neutral by 2038, creating a greener city-region for years to come.”
The announcement was made as part of the third annual Greater Manchester Green Summit, taking place virtually this year between 21 – 24 September. The Summit reviews the 6 environmental themes outlined in the Greater Manchester five-year environment plan (March 2019). Each day of the summit will highlight one of the plan’s themes and features workshops delivered by the Youth Combined Authority.