UK signs agreement on offshore renewable energy cooperation

  • The agreement between the UK and the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) sets the framework for greater cooperation with North Seas neighbours.
  • Collaboration on development of offshore renewable energy and grid infrastructure essential for meeting UK net zero commitment and bolstering European energy security
  • Initiative expected to support the UK’s ambitious targets to increase offshore wind fivefold to 50GW by 2030.

The UK Minister for Energy and Climate Graham Stuart has today (18 December) signed a landmark agreement on renewable energy cooperation with EU and North Seas countries.

The Memorandum of Understanding with the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) forum fulfils commitments in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), enabling the UK to work with NSEC members to develop renewables projects in the North Seas – specifically projects linking electricity interconnectors and windfarms. The countries involved include Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and the European Commission, signalling a new phase in UK-EU cooperation.

The MoU sets out the terms for future cooperation between the UK and NSEC and enables closer cooperation in the development of offshore renewable energy, including offshore grids in the North Seas.

The initiative is expected to support the UK’s ambitious targets to increase offshore wind fivefold to 50GW, and deliver 18GW of electricity interconnector capacity – up from 8.4 GW today – by 2030.

Minister of State for Energy and Climate, Graham Stuart, said:

I’m pleased to agree even greater energy cooperation with our North Seas neighbours, which will be vital in helping the UK meet it ambitious renewables target, including increasing offshore wind fivefold to 50GW by 2030.

The development of renewables in the North Seas is critical for accelerating our clean transition and boosting energy security for the UK and our European neighbours.

The UK currently sends and receives electricity through cables that link us with neighbours like France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The agreement bolsters the mission to facilitate further interconnection.

Analysis by National Grid Electricity System Operator shows that a well-integrated grid linked to offshore wind farms can deliver savings to consumers of up to around £3 billion.

The former Prime Minister Liz Truss set the ground for the MoU at the European Political Community summit in Prague in October, setting out the strong case for close cooperation with the UK’s European neighbours on energy security and boosting renewables.

Editor’s Notes

The Memorandum of Understanding is available here

The MoU sets out the terms of cooperation between the UK and NSEC. Participation in NSEC will enable the UK to develop joint offshore projects with neighbouring countries as well as shape and influence regional approaches to issues such as cross-border electricity.

Link: UK signs agreement on offshore renewable energy cooperation
Source: Assent Information Services

Final opportunity for businesses to access Help to Grow: Digital scheme

  • Last chance for businesses to access Help to Grow: Digital scheme as government announces closure of the programme
  • Last discounts on eligible software can be applied for on 2 February 2023
  • Help to Grow: Management remains in place

Businesses have less than two months to apply for the Help to Grow: Digital scheme, the government has announced, following a decision to close the programme. The programme will close to new business applications for discounts on 2 February 2023. Discounts issued for eligible software must be redeemed within 30 days from issue date.

The scheme has supported businesses to grow, but with take-up lower than expected, the government cannot justify the continued cost of the scheme to the taxpayer. The decision has been taken to refocus efforts towards other support mechanisms for small businesses, ensuring businesses get the backing they need in the most efficient and productive way possible.

The Help to Grow Digital programme was designed to give 100,000 SMEs free and impartial advice on how technology can help their business and vouchers worth up to £5,000 to cover up to 50% of the costs of buying pre-approved software. Despite a marketing campaign, expanded eligibility of the scheme and positive feedback from users of the scheme, it did not have the take up expected, with less than one thousand vouchers redeemed by SMEs.

The government continues to support small businesses, such as through Help to Grow: Management and the government-backed British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans, which are available to help aspiring entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

Small businesses have also benefited from the Energy Bill Relief Scheme which provides non-domestic customers with a discount on their gas and electricity bills in light of the rise in global energy prices.

As part of the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor also announced a package of changes and tax cuts worth £13.6 billion over the next five years. The package contains new measures to reduce the burden of business rates on firms, including a freeze in the multiplier, extended and increased relief for high street businesses, an exchequer funded transitional relief scheme, and targeted support for small businesses.

Notes to editors

Small businesses who would like to know more about Help to Grow: Management and Help to Grow: Digital should visit

Small businesses and stakeholders who have queries should please contact

Help to Grow: Management remains in place and has received positive feedback from participating businesses so far.

Link: Final opportunity for businesses to access Help to Grow: Digital scheme
Source: Assent Information Services

£102 million government backing for nuclear and hydrogen innovation in the UK

  • Government further commits to the future of nuclear power by investing £77 million to support nuclear fuel production and next generation advanced nuclear reactors in the UK
  • further £25 million funding announced for innovative new technologies that will generate clean hydrogen from biomass and waste
  • government also seeks views on proposals to make domestic gas boilers more efficient and be hydrogen-ready from 2026, to prepare for any future transition to using low-carbon hydrogen for heating

The UK government is today (13 December 2022) announcing new funding to support clean energy production in the UK, following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent impact on global energy prices.

Today’s funding includes £77 million to bolster nuclear fuel production and support the development of the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors, along with £25 million for technologies that can produce hydrogen from sustainable biomass and waste, while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Nuclear investment

The government is today committing to new and innovative nuclear energy with the announcement of funding worth up to £60 million to kick start the next phase of research into the new cutting-edge High Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR), a type of Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR), which could be up and running by the early 2030s. The funding, from the Advanced Modular Reactor R&D programme, aims to get a demonstration project of the engineering design up and running by the end of the decade. 

HTGRs are typically smaller than conventional nuclear power stations, more flexible, and could be built at a fraction of a cost. It is hoped that as well as safely creating electricity to power homes, HTGRs will bolster the UK’s energy sovereignty and security, by reducing reliance on expensive fossil fuels, as well as generate by-products such as low-carbon hydrogen.  By generating temperatures of up to 950 degrees, HTGRs provide a source of clean, high temperature heat that could help decarbonise industrial processes in the UK.

Today’s funding for HTGR innovation is supported with a further £4 million funding for the AMR Knowledge Capture Project, as a complementary project to the AMR Research, Development and Demonstration programme.  The project seeks to facilitate knowledge capture and sharing to reduce the time, risk, and cost of the programme delivery.

Also announced today is up to £13 million for nuclear fuel fabricators Westinghouse in Preston, which has strategic importance to producing fuel for the current UK advanced gas cooled reactor fleet. The funding will mean the UK has the option of being less reliant on imports from abroad and helps the company develop the capability to making both reprocessed uranium and freshly mined uranium.  This is a significant investment at the Westinghouse Springfields site in Lancashire safeguarding hundreds of highly skilled jobs in the northwest.

As well as bolstering UK energy security, ministers hope it will also deliver export opportunities for the sector and position the UK as a key international supplier of nuclear fuel and fuel cycle services.

The news comes a fortnight after ministers announced the further revitalisation of the UK nuclear industry, by confirming the first state backing of a nuclear project in over 30 years, with an historic £700 million stake in Sizewell C in Suffolk. The power station will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 6 million homes for over 50 years.

Energy and Climate Minister Graham Stuart said:

This funding package will strengthen our energy security, by ensuring we have a safe and secure supply of domestic nuclear fuel services – while also creating more UK jobs and export opportunities.

Hydrogen innovation

Set to become a super-fuel of the future, accelerating the use of hydrogen will be key to the UK’s greener energy future, alongside the government’s work to deploy renewables and nuclear to strengthen the UK’s energy security.

To support this, the government has committed £25 million to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – a unique ‘negative emission’ technology that can permanently remove waste from the atmosphere by absorbing CO2 during the growth of the sustainable biomass and the organic content.

Hydrogen BECCS technologies will have a key role to play on the UK’s path to net zero emissions, providing hydrogen as a clean fuel for hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as transport and heavy industry. Today’s funding will go directly towards progressing BECCS projects from the design stage to demonstration, supporting the technology to eventually become integrated as part of our everyday energy system.

Energy Minister Lord Callanan said:

With its potential to go one step further than net zero, and be carbon negative – removing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere – this hydrogen technology will be crucial to achieving our climate goals.

Our £25 million government funding to develop this technology will help unlock private investment and generate new green jobs – all while cutting carbon emissions.

This programme forms one of many steps the government is taking to develop a thriving low-carbon hydrogen sector as part of the UK’s green industrial revolution.

Also announced today are proposals to set higher efficiency standards for new gas boilers, which could help households save on energy bills by cutting their use of expensive fossil fuels. Improving boiler efficiency will cut carbon emissions on the way to phasing out new and replacement natural-gas-only boilers from 2035. The proposal estimates 21 million tonnes of CO2 can be saved by 2050, the equivalent of taking nearly 9 million cars off the road for a year.

In a further move towards making household heating more efficient, the government is also consulting on a proposal for all new domestic-scale gas boilers sold from 2026 to be capable of being powered by hydrogen, to prepare for any potential future transition to the use of low-carbon hydrogen for heating.

Also published today is the ‘UK Hydrogen Strategy update to the market: December 2022’, summarising the government’s action to advance the hydrogen economy since the last update this summer. Activity undertaken by government in the last few months includes:

These documents strengthen the policy and regulatory landscape for the UK’s hydrogen sector, to provide further certainty for investors and industry alike.

Stakeholder reaction

Tarik Choho, President of Nuclear Fuel at Westinghouse, said:

There is a strong global appetite for diversified and secure sources of supply of fuel and services and the UK’s nuclear excellence and experience, particularly at Springfields, offer utilities an attractive option.

We are delighted the UK government recognises the role of Springfields, and its workforce, as a strategic asset that supports a clean and secure energy future.

Jane Toogood, UK Hydrogen Champion, said:

It’s good to see the next stage of implementation of the Hydrogen Strategy, particularly the consultation on the proposal to make new gas boilers hydrogen-ready. To maintain market confidence and investment, industry needs the Government to keep up the momentum, particularly on decisions to create demand for hydrogen and progress the hydrogen business models.

Mike Foster, Chief Executive of Energy and Utilities Alliance and The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council, said:

Mandating hydrogen-ready boilers is an important step towards decarbonising homes. The government are absolutely right to support this no-regrets option. Boiler manufacturers have already made their ‘price promise’ so that a new hydrogen-ready boiler will cost the same as a natural gas appliance. So this means 1.7 million homes a year will be ready for net zero at no extra cost to the consumer, helping us hit our 2050 target.

Notes to editors

Nuclear investment

  • the Springfields site is located in Salwick, near Preston in Lancashire. It is currently operated by Springfields Fuels Ltd under the management of Westinghouse Electric UK under a 150-year lease from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
  • uranium conversion is an important stage in the nuclear fuel cycle. The funding will create expert nuclear fuel capability to convert recycled uranium in the UK that is not currently available outside Russia
  • this award is subject to a signed funding agreement
  • see further details about the UK’s Energy Security Strategy
  • more information about the £385 million Advanced Nuclear Fund, supporting R&D on SMRs and AMRs. The AMR R&D programme was launched in Feb 2022.  The winners of Phase A were announced in Sept 2022, receiving £3.3 million. Full details on the £60 million available under Phase B

Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme

  • the funding announced today is available through the Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme, and follows the launch of Phase 1, which was worth £5 million, in January. Phase 2 will support the most promising projects from Phase 1 with funding targeted at developing projects from the design stage to demonstration
  • the programme aims to support the development of core technologies essential for the generation of hydrogen from sustainable biomass and waste with the ability to capture carbon
  • after receiving funding for feasibility and design activities, phase 1 projects now have the opportunity to apply for additional funding to support the physical demonstration of the hydrogen BECCS technology
  • today’s funding will go directly towards progressing projects from the design stage to demonstration, supporting the technology to eventually become integrated as part of our everyday energy system by 2030

Hydrogen update

As a clean fuel, emitting only water vapour when combusted, hydrogen has a critical role to play in our transition to net zero, with the potential to help reduce emissions from hard to decarbonise areas of the economy, such as transport and heavy industry.

Also published today are updates delivering on commitments set out in the UK Hydrogen Strategy and the British Energy Security Strategy. These include:

Domestic boiler consultation

Link: £102 million government backing for nuclear and hydrogen innovation in the UK
Source: Assent Information Services

New plans to strengthen tech ties between UK and Japan

Today the UK and Japan have unveiled details of a new digital partnership to turbocharge their joint working in an era of increasing global competition on tech and data.

The UK and Japan are modern tech powerhouses, with combined IT sectors worth more than £406 billion. The newly launched partnership will develop the unique strengths of both countries and deliver on the UK’s ambition, set out in this year’s Digital Strategy, to increase international collaboration on complex tech issues.

The partnership will structure engagement between the UK and Japanese governments on a range of digital issues, including how to improve the resilience of globally significant supply chains such as semiconductors and telecommunications. The countries will develop joint research and development initiatives to share expertise about these vital technologies.

The UK and Japan will strengthen foundations for trade and investment between their tech economies and make it easier for businesses to operate in both countries by aligning approaches to digital regulation.

Improving cyber resilience is a priority for the partnership, which will see the UK and Japan promote initiatives to standardise the security of internet-connected products and apps and address the risks of digital services in supply chains.

Collaboration between the UK’s data regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and Japanese regulators will be supported through the partnership to give businesses and citizens greater certainty about the security of data sharing between both countries.

At the centre of the partnership will be the UK-Japan Digital Council, an annual meeting between ministers from the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Digital Agency to drive forward new priorities.

UK Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said:

The UK’s relationship with Japan has grown from strength to strength in recent years based on a foundation of shared goals and values. Our thriving tech sectors are another opportunity for us to work together to benefit citizens and businesses across both countries. I look forward to deepening our relationship through the UK-Japan Digital Partnership in the future.

Both governments will use international settings such as Japan’s G7 Presidency and the G20 to tackle shared goals and challenges with other global partners.

This new partnership further delivers on the UK’s goal, set out in the Integrated Review, to become the European nation with the broadest presence in the Indo-Pacific region which is increasingly critical as global tech competition and international assertiveness intensifies.

Link: New plans to strengthen tech ties between UK and Japan
Source: Assent Information Services

UK and US announce new energy partnership

  • PM and President Biden create a new high-level bilateral group to focus on energy security, efficiency and affordability
  • The venture will give further high-level political backing to our accelerated energy transitions and Net Zero commitments
  • Over the coming year, US aims to more than double the amount of gas exported to the UK in 2021 to secure supply and reduce price volatility

The UK and US will work together to increase energy security and drive down prices, as part of an initiative announced by the Prime Minister and US President Biden today (7th December).

Under the new ‘UK-US Energy Security and Affordability Partnership’, the UK and US will drive work to reduce global dependence on Russian energy exports, stabilise energy markets and step up collaboration on energy efficiency, nuclear and renewables. The initiative will be steered by a new UK-US Joint Action Group, led by senior officials from the UK Government and the White House.

This new partnership follows the Prime Minister and President Biden’s meeting at the G20 Summit in Indonesia, where they agreed to take forward work to address our short-term energy needs and spearhead efforts to speed up our energy transition.

Putin’s war in Ukraine has caused an international spike in energy prices. To help deal with the resulting rise in the cost of living, the group will work to ensure the market delivers sustained increases in the supply of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to UK terminals from the US and will collaborate on energy efficiency measures. 

As part of this, the US will strive to export at least 9-10 billion cubic metres of LNG over the next year via UK terminals, more than doubling the level exported in 2021 and capitalising on the UK’s leading import infrastructure. This will be good for both UK and European partners as we look to replenish gas storage next year. To fulfil this shared objective, both governments will work to proactively identify and resolve any issues faced by exporters and importers.

The group will also work to reduce global reliance on Russian energy by driving efforts to increase energy efficiency and supporting the transition to clean energy, expediting the development of clean hydrogen globally and promoting civil nuclear as a secure use of energy.

The Prime Minister said:

Together the UK and US will ensure the global price of energy and the security of our national supply can never again be manipulated by the whims of a failing regime.

We have the natural resources, industry and innovative thinking we need to create a better, freer system and accelerate the clean energy transition. This partnership will bring down prices for British consumers and help end Europe’s dependence on Russian energy once and for all.

The partnership will build on the work of the UK-US Strategic Energy Dialogue led by energy ministers, with a focus on gas supply, energy efficiency, civil nuclear and clean energy.

On civil nuclear, the partnership will promote nuclear energy as a safe and reliable part of the clean energy transition. This includes deepening global collaboration on nuclear fuels and advanced nuclear technologies.

The partnership will also drive international investment in clean energy technologies, from offshore wind to carbon capture. This will complement the work the UK and US are doing together with G7 partners to support the use of clean and sustainable energy in developing countries through the Just Energy Transition Partnerships.

In tandem with shoring up security of energy supply, the group will exchange best practice and work on measures to increase energy efficiency and reduce demand for gas. It is already estimated that there could be an 8% reduction in demand for gas in the UK this winter. The Joint Action Group will explore policy solutions to enhance this efficiency, building on UK Government initiatives such as the Help to Heat Programme.

The initiative will pursue innovative energy solutions, such as the decarbonisation of the aerospace industry and development of sustainable aviation fuel technologies, collaborative efforts on electric vehicles, and Energy Smart Appliances.

We will also continue our close collaboration on Carbon Capture Usage and Storage, and progress the Clean Hydrogen Mission. The UK and US are already co-leads of the Hydrogen Breakthrough Agenda, a flagship initiative to push forward clean hydrogen internationally.

Link: UK and US announce new energy partnership
Source: Assent Information Services

More than £70 million to turbocharge the future of clean transport

  • More than £70 million in joint government and industry funding to develop clean transport technology
  • projects expected to support 3,300 jobs and drive economic growth across the UK over the next decade
  • innovations required for hydrogen-powered HGVs, a tractor powered by farmyard waste and more efficient methods of manufacturing electric motors among those awarded funding

A world-first heavy tractor powered by farm waste is just one of the game-changing projects benefitting from £73 million in new funding for the development of clean transport technologies announced today (Friday 2 December).

The joint government and industry investment will support projects right across the UK, from Burnaston to Bridgwater, in support of ambitions to build an end-to-end supply chain for zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) in the UK. The five successful projects are set to support 3,300 jobs across the UK, working on new ways to harness renewable fuels, electric motors that are both powerful and highly efficient, and new materials that’ll reduce the auto industry’s carbon footprint.

The funding has been awarded through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) Collaborative Research and Development programme, which supports the development of innovative low and zero-carbon automotive technology, with £36.4 million coming from government. This is backed by a further £36.6 million from the automobile industry – taking today’s total to £73 million.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Our automotive industry is a world-leader, creating jobs whether in Essex, Somerset or Glasgow. Seizing the potential from new technologies will be a key part of its future success, while also making our roads cleaner, greener and more affordable.

“Today’s multi-million-pound boost – created by government working hand-in-hand with industry – will put these firms in pole position to pioneer these innovations, staying at the cutting edge of the global race for decades to come.”

Joint government and industry funding winners are:

HVS, Glasgow
Receiving £30 million to develop a hydrogen fuel cell-powered HGV cab and tractor unit to replace the highly polluting diesel-powered vehicles currently used to transport road freight.

CNH Industrial, Essex
Receiving £15.6 million to develop the world’s first liquid fugitive methane-powered, off-road, heavy tractor. It makes use of methane gas produced by waste from farms, that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere.

Toyota, Derbyshire
Receiving £11.3 million to develop a hydrogen-fuel cell version of the Hilux pickup truck, ideal for use in isolated settings where electric vehicle charging is impractical.

Constellium, Slough
Receiving £10 million to provide new sources of recycled aluminium that could massively reduce the auto industry’s carbon footprint.

Electrified Automation, Somerset
Receiving £6 million to up-scale a market-disrupting new method for manufacturing electric motors that are more cost-effective, powerful and efficient than much of the competition.

Chief Executive at the APC Ian Constance said:  

“Supporting vital research and development in the UK, now more than ever, provides an opportunity to invest in transport decarbonisation as well as boost growth in the automotive sector.

“The £73 million of funding announced today furthers world-leading innovation in net-zero technology for the automotive sector and beyond. These five fantastic projects are all collaborative by design, led by high-profile companies with innovative SME and academic partners, representing the best of UK industry.”

Today’s announcement comes on top of funding also being invested by the government through the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) to develop a high-value end-to-end electrified automotive supply chain in the UK.

This includes unlocking private investment in gigafactories, battery material supply chains, motors, power electronics, and fuel cell systems. The ATF is being delivered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in partnership with the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

The government has committed a record £211 million to battery research and innovation through the Faraday Battery Challenge, to help the sector deliver 100,000 jobs in battery gigafactories and the battery supply chain by 2040. The funding will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) with support from the Faraday Institution, Innovate UK and the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC).

The UK Hydrogen Strategy sets out how government, working with industry, is aiming to develop 10GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2030, for use across the economy. This forms a part of the British energy security strategy for delivering secure, clean and affordable British energy for the long term.

Notes to editors

Funding winners

Toyota – Hilux FC

An £11.3 million project, supported by £5.6 million from government with a further £5.7 million from industry, to develop and pilot production of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered version of the Toyota Hilux pickup truck. This will support more than 250 jobs across the UK over the next decade. Toyota have sites at Burnaston, Derbyshire, and Deeside, North Wales.

Electrified Automation – PIMMS

PIMMS (Process Innovations for electric Motor Manufacturing Solutions) will up-scale a new method for manufacturing permanent magnet electric motors, which are used in a wide range of electric vehicles. This £6.02 million project is being supported by £3.01 million from the government with a further £3.01 million from industry. Electrified Automation are based in Bridgwater, Somerset.

HVS – Hydrogen-Electric HGV Powertrain Development

A £30 million project, supported by £15 million from government with a further £15 million from industry, to develop a hydrogen fuel cell-powered HGV cab and tractor unit, to replace the diesel-powered equivalents currently used across the UK and Europe. HVS are based in Glasgow.

Constellium – CirConAl project

CirConAl, which stands for Circular and Constant Aluminium, is a project aiming to improve how industry manages scrap aluminium. The objective is to provide the auto industry with lower carbon and lower cost sources of recycled aluminium alloys. £5 million in government funding is supporting this £10 million project, with a further £5 million from industry. Constellium’s UK base is in Slough.

CNH Industrial – ATLAS

This £15.6 million project, supported by £7.8 million from government with a further £7.8 million from industry, will develop the world’s first liquid fugitive methane powered, off-road, heavy tractor. This form of methane can be derived from livestock manure, which could be a sustainable source of fuel in agricultural settings. CNH Industrial are based in Basildon, Essex.

About the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) collaborates with UK government, the automotive industry and academia to accelerate the industrialisation of technologies, supporting the transition to deliver net-zero emission vehicles.

Since its foundation in 2013, APC has funded 188 low-carbon projects involving 426 partners, working with companies of all sizes, and will have helped to create or safeguard over 50,000 jobs in the UK. The technologies developed in these projects are projected to save over 312 million tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of removing the lifetime emissions from 12.6 million cars.

With its deep sector expertise and cutting-edge knowledge of new propulsion technologies, APC’s role in building and advising project consortia helps projects start more quickly and deliver increased value. In the longer term, its work to drive innovation and encourage collaboration is building the foundations for a successful and sustainable UK automotive industry.

Link: More than £70 million to turbocharge the future of clean transport
Source: Assent Information Services