Seven-plus decades of radical thinking underpin Harwell’s fast expanding Energy Tech Cluster.


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Living Lab' demonstrator projects

A go-to location

Seven-plus decades of radical thinking underpin Harwell’s fast expanding Energy Tech Cluster. From post-war atomic energy research, the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and the Central Laser Facility, to our world-leading Diamond Light Source and recent work scoping out space-based, solar power generation.

Since its launch in 2018 – centred on the flagship Faraday Institution – it’s brought together more than 80 participants on the campus and over 100 in the wider network. Support for incubation, acceleration, funding, technical partnerships, expertise and skills is all available. A single point of contact, Emma Southwell-Sander, the Energy Tech Cluster manager, helps to navigate and connect. There are countless networking and partnering opportunities across our Space, Quantum and Life Science clusters.

Backed by world-class facilities campus-wide, also including the Extreme Photonics Applications Centre (EPAC) and a green ammonia demonstrator, this multi-disciplinary approach is what makes us the UK’s go-to location for energy related companies. Together, we’re pushing boundaries in a sector whose importance for our future is hard to overstate.

“Harwell Energy Tech Cluster is the UK’s go-to location for energy-related companies that want to push boundaries in a sector whose importance is hard to overstate.”

Emma Southwell-Sander, Energy Tech Cluster Manager

Rising to the renewable challenge

The world is facing its toughest ever test with the urgent search for clean, carbon-free energy. It means the Energy Tech Cluster has a critical role to play supporting the climate change agenda and the UKRI’s ‘net zero’ ambitions to 2040.

Many of our organisations and businesses are actively engaged with the UK Government’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution‘, working on projects such as zero carbon energy storage, battery research, PV, wind energy and zero carbon fuels. Energy Tech is leading the way with our unique ‘Net Zero Living Laboratory‘ initiative.

Using a ‘real’ community of users and facilities as an analogue of mixed-use industrial sites, we can develop, test, evaluate and refine new energy systems in a real-world environment before they’re rolled out more widely. This also accelerates the development of new solutions, with the added advantage of Harwell’s vast pool of technical knowledge to hand.

Over 200+ organisations on site

Bringing investment closer

Access to investment is extremely well developed in the Energy Tech Cluster. Our Proof of Concept programme funds cluster businesses to work with other organisations to collaborate on new technologies using our facilities. The Cluster enjoys close relationships with private equity, banks and wider financial networks. Tapping into resources such as these can make the difference between having brilliant ideas and transforming them into commercial reality – we have helped organisations of all sizes to raise millions of pounds.

Delivering real success

Energy Tech’s pioneering Jet Zero project is just one example of the way we offer unrivalled support to businesses. Kickstarted through the Proof of Concept scheme and now aligned with multi-million-pound funding from the IP Group, this close collaboration between Oxford-based Reaction Engines and the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council could see zero carbon ammonia replace kerosene as jet fuel. With only minimal modifications to conventional jet engines needed, it’s both a clean and cost-effective solution with massive global potential.

The success of QDot backed by the Faraday Institution offers another take on our cluster’s winning formula of concentrated talent, technology and support. By using cooling techniques first developed for nuclear fusion reactors that reach temperatures five times hotter than the sun, QDot engineers are aiming to cut electric vehicle battery charging by two thirds. It’s a game-changing idea that could help make EV adoption mainstream much sooner.

Emma Southwell-Sander

Harwell Energy Tech Cluster Development Manager

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