Develop and integrate energy storage technologies at grid scale

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Apply to do fundamental research into developing and integrating technologies to enable energy storage at grid level.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for EPSRC funding.

Your project must be at least 50% within the remit of EPSRC.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £1.5 million. EPSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

We are interested in the following areas:

  • mechanical storage systems
  • compressed-air energy storage
  • storage of heat, hydrogen or natural gas
  • heat pumps or pumped heat electrical storage.

This is not an exhaustive list and we welcome proposals in alternative and novel areas.

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply

Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

Read the guidance on institutional eligibility.

You can only be an investigator on one proposal submitted to this opportunity (as either principal or co-investigator).

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of the eligibility criteria below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at a level equivalent to lecturer or above
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Holders of postdoctoral level fellowships are not eligible to apply for an EPSRC grant.

If you are currently restricted under the repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy, you may submit unlimited outlines but you will only be able to submit one full proposal (as principal investigator or co-investigator) during the 12-month restricted period.

Submissions to this opportunity will count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

Scope

This is an opportunity for funding proposals in fundamental research which applies to energy storage at grid scale. This can be development of new storage technologies or integration of technologies to grid scale.

Both short-term balancing technologies and long-term inter-seasonal technologies are of interest.

For more information on the background scope of this funding opportunity, please see the grid scale energy storage workshop report (PDF, 196KB).

While we understand research in this area can be interdisciplinary, the project must be in the remit of EPSRC with at least 50% of the proposed work falling within the energy theme at EPSRC.

The following are of interest. Please note this list is not exhaustive and alternative or novel areas are welcome:

  • mechanical storage systems
  • compressed-air energy storage
  • storage of heat, hydrogen or natural gas
  • heat pumps or pumped heat electrical storage.

We do not require specific industrial collaboration to be included in the application. However, support from project partners is welcome and letters of support can be attached to the full proposal submission, if appropriate.

Out of scope

Proposals that do not fall within EPSRC remit or are not sufficiently focused on the development or integration of grid scale energy storage will be rejected.

Due to other opportunities that are available in these spaces, we will not fund projects that could be described as:

  • battery technologies
  • formation of chemical storage vectors (such as hydrogen).

Funding available

We plan to award approximately 8 to 10 proposals from this opportunity. Projects will be for 24 months in duration and valued between £500,000 and £1.5 million for fundamental research in this area.

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be under the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading.

Find more information on equipment funding (EPSRC).

How to apply

Complete an intent to submit

Before submission of the full proposal, an intent to submit must be completed and submitted before 8 September 2021.

Complete an intent to submit (SmartSurvey).

Submit a full proposal

You will not receive any feedback on your intent to submit. Please submit a full proposal whenever you’re ready.

For submission of the full proposal applicants should ensure they are aware of and comply with any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place. You should prepare and submit your proposal using the Joint electronic Submission system (Je-S).

How to use Je-S

When adding a new proposal, you should go to documents, select ‘new document’, then select:

  • ‘Create New Document’
  • council ‘EPSRC’
  • document type ‘Standard Proposal’
  • scheme ‘Standard’
  • on the ‘project details’ page you should select the ‘Grid Scale Energy Storage’ funding opportunity.

After completing the application:

  1. you must ‘submit document’ which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration
  2. your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process. Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the call closing date.

Additional documents you need to submit

As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted

  • case for support: eight pages, two on your track record and six on the scientific case
  • work plan: one page
  • justification of resources: two pages.

The following are only required where appropriate:

  • CVs: up to two A4 sides each only for named post-doctoral staff, researcher co-investigators (research assistants who have made a substantial contribution to the proposal and will be employed on the project for a significant amount of time), and visiting researchers
  • letters of support from all project partners included in the Je-S form: no page limit
  • technical assessments for facilities listed as requiring one in the Je-S guidance: no page limit
  • cover letter: optional attachment, no page limit, not seen by peer review.

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

Get advice on writing proposals (EPSRC).

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for.

All relevant parts of the ethical information section must be completed.

See further guidance on completing the Je-S form about ethical information.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

Stage one: intent to submit

In order to submit a full proposal to this opportunity, an intent to submit must be completed.

This stage is not assessed. The remit of the proposed work will be determined at the full proposal stage.

For this stage, we will use the information to plan peer review of the full proposals and understand demand. The questions involved in this survey relate to the involved:

  • investigators
  • costs
  • partners involved
  • objectives for the research.

In the event of this funding opportunity being substantially oversubscribed as to be unmanageable, EPSRC reserves the right to modify the full proposal assessment process.

Stage two: full proposal

Full proposals will undergo postal peer review by community members with appropriate expertise.

There will then be the opportunity for applicants to reply to comments made. The reviews, and response from applicants will then be assessed at a panel of generalists and prioritised for funding, which will inform funding decisions.

Standard assessment criteria

Quality (primary)

The research excellence, making reference to:

  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact.

National importance (secondary major)

How the research:

  • contributes to, or helps maintain the health of other disciplines
  • contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges or contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industry(s)
  • meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world-leading activity
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio.

Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

The ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicant or applicants
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators.

Resources and management (secondary)

The effectiveness of the proposed planning and management and whether the requested resources are appropriate and have been fully justified, making reference to:

  • any equipment requested, or the viability of the arrangements described to access equipment needed for this project, and particularly on any university or third-party contribution
  • any resources requested for activities to either increase impact, for public engagement or to support responsible innovation.

Specific criteria for this funding opportunity

Fit with the opportunity

The proposal contributes to the problems of grid scale energy storage in the UK, with reference to:

  • ambition and adventure: would the outcomes of the proposal have a significant impact on larger scale storage of energy
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact in this area.

Feedback

The intent to submit is not assessed and so there will be no feedback.

Feedback on full proposals will be provided in the form of reviewer comments, plus information on the panel provided on grants on the web.

No formal feedback will be provided from the panel, as the panel will act as a jury to make an assessment based on the reviews and responses for the proposals and will not re-assess the proposals.

Nominating reviewers

As part of the application process you will be invited to nominate up to three potential reviewers who you feel have the expertise to assess your proposal. Please ensure that any nominations meet the EPSRC policy on conflicts of interest.

For more information about the reviewer selection process please see the related content links.

Guidance for reviewers

Read information about the EPSRC peer review process and guidance for reviewers.

Read guidance for reviewing standard grants (EPSRC).

Contact details

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Get help with Je-S

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk.

Email: jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone: 01793 444164

Ask a question about this opportunity

Judith McCann

Email: energy@epsrc.ukri.org

Ask about peer review

Email: energypeerpeview@epsrc.ukri.org

Additional info

Background

The UK has committed to reaching net zero by 2050. The future energy system will have an increasing reliance on renewables, which can lead to seasonal disparities due to the intermittent nature of energy supply.

The intermittence experienced across the grid will need to be resolved. This necessitates alternative energy storage technologies or increases to the storage capacity of current storage technologies.

A key factor in reaching decarbonisation goals will be more cost effective, efficient energy storage technologies.

Along with scale-up of existing energy storage and development of new energy storage technologies is the need to integrate these with existing and future infrastructure.

This opportunity aims to fund several fundamental research proposals in the area of grid-scale energy storage. This can be the development of new storage technologies or integration of technologies to grid scale.

This funding opportunity has been developed due to advice gained from the community, in terms of the UKRI Energy Programme Scientific Advisory Committee as well as a workshop held earlier this year.

The report from the workshop contains more detailed information on the type of intervention needed in this area.

Read the workshop report (PDF, 196KB).

Responsible innovation

EPSRC is fully committed to develop and promote responsible innovation. Research has the ability to not only produce understanding, knowledge and value, but also unintended:

  • consequences
  • questions
  • ethical dilemmas
  • social transformations.

We recognise that we have a duty of care to promote approaches to responsible innovation that will initiate ongoing reflection about the potential ethical and societal implications of the research that we sponsor and to encourage our research community to do likewise.

Therefore applicants are expected to work within EPSRC framework for responsible innovation.

Applicants planning to include international collaborators in their proposal should get more information and advice on trusted research from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. This is so they can get the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.

Supporting documents

Grid scale energy storage workshop report (PDF, 196KB)

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 184KB)

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