Tag Archives: UK

United Kingdom working to become the avant-garden in green technologies

Both public and private sectors are working together to make our country one of the first regarding low carbon vehicles. A total amount of £56 million, (27 million coming from public funding and 29 million from the private sector) will be provided for that aim.
Among the private companies that support this challenge we can find some international ones, such as Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover and Nissan, as well as other SMEs that will contribute to the development of seventeen plans.
The projects were elected on an initial competition where several proposals covering a wide range of technologies were presented. Transport Minister, Norman Baker, said. “It is great to see such a positive response from industry to this competition”.
As a result of these scheduled projects, UK will have several advantages, not only environmental but also economical:
· This initiative will make it easy to achieve climate change challenges.

· New jobs will be created at technological and industrial sectors.

· New business opportunities for the UK will be feasible not only in our country, but also overseas.

· UK will lead in low carbon vehicle technologies.

All these will have positive repercussions for the UK in a long term period.
Business and Enterprise Minister Marc Prisk MB, emphasized “the hard work with Industry to invest in innovative research and development” to put the UK at the cutting edge of low carbon vehicle technologies.

TSB and DECC R&D Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), are funding five new projects that are researching and developing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. These government-backed projects want to bring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies into everyday use so they are using research and development to speed up the adoption of energy systems using hydrogen en fuel cell technologies.

They want to develop whole systems and they want to show that fuel cell systems and hydrogen technologies can work together with other energy and transport component such as renewable energy generation, refueling infrastructure and vehicles. So energy and transport components can be integrated with the fuel cell systems and hydrogen technologies. These technologies can also be used in low carbon energy systems and transport.

Mark Prisk, Business Minister, said that the UK has innovative business developing world-leading hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The UK wants to capture a share of the global market by developing a coherent capability and vibrant industry. If they are in the position to capture that share of the market, they will be able to attract international partnerships and inward investment. This will also cause a growth of the national economy and create job opportunities. These five new projects complement the already joint government/industry project called UK H2 Mobility. This project is currently evaluating potential roll-out scenarios for hydrogen for transport in the UK.

Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said that hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies are at the cutting edge of new low carbon energy solutions. It is important to see how these technologies can be integrated with other energy and transport products and it are these new and exciting government-supported projects that will look into that. He also said that he is looking forward to seeing the results.

The five new projects were selected through a competitive process and will be led by Air Products plc, BOC Ltd, ITM Power (Trading), Rutland Management Ltd and SSE plc. The projects will:

  • Create the UK’s first end-to-end, integrated, green hydrogen production, distribution and retailing system. This will be centered around a fully publically accessible, state-of-the-art 700 bar renewable H2 refueling station network across London (Air Products Plc).
  • Deliver solar energy generated hydrogen for Swindon’s exiting public access H2 refueling station. This will happen via an electrolyser. And its use in materials handling vehicles and light vans at Honda’s manufacturing plant (BOC Ltd).
  • Integrate an electrolyser based refueller with renewable energy on the Isle of Wight. This will enable zero carbon hydrogen to be produced for use as transport fuel for a range of vehicles (ITM Power).
  • Demonstrate a viable solar-hydrogen energy system through the 24/7 provision of green electricity and heat. The benefits will be shared by multiple end users of a business park in Surrey (Rutland Management Ltd).
  • Demonstrate a whole renewable hydrogen system, connecting a 1MWe electrolyser to the grid. This is in conjunction with an Aberdeenshire wind farm. They want to explore the grid impacts and energy storage potential of hydrogen generation, and provide green hydrogen produced to power a fleet of fuel cell buses (SSE plc).

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, added that these innovative, large-scale demonstrators will show how fuel cells and hydrogen technologies can be adapted, developed and integrated to provide real-time and real-world low carbon solutions. These projects will also show how the Technology Strategy Board can help the UK businesses to accelerate the development and commercialization of technological innovations.

A grant funding of £9 million is provided by the Technology Strategy Board and DECC. This means the total value of the projects, including contributions from the industrial partners, is in excess of £19 million. The projects are building on previous Government support for fuel cells and hydrogen systems, accelerating the process towards commercialization.

ITM Power and their plans

ITM Power, a clean fuel firm based in Sheffield, wants to fund its growth, and they are planning to do this by raising up to £9m through share issues. The company develops and sells electrolyster technology to turn electricity into hydrogen gas. The company already raised £5m by issuing 10 million new ordinary shares at 50p per share to institutional investors and non-executive director Peter Hargreaves. Via an open offer, they want to issue another eight million shares. This could take the total money raised to around £8.9m.

Non-executive chairman of ITM Power, Roger Putnam, said that this is a crucial time for the development of the company. It’s important for the company to have a strong balance sheet so the on-going commercial relationships can be supported and stay supported. He said that he was very delighted that Peter Hargreaves, the existing institutional shareholders, and some new institutions showed their commitment to the company in this funding round.

Since the first pack of issued shares was just for the institutional investors, the board felt like this is unfair for the existing shareholders. That’s why they are making an open offer of shares to the existing shareholders at the same price at the offer of shares to the institutional investors. The existing shareholders need this opportunity to keep participating alongside the institutional shareholders.

Yesterday, the company also revealed its annual results. This year it includes the first significant revenue of £480.000. The company says that their outlook is positive with early revenue streams developing.

Professor Putnam said that ITM power has successfully positioned itself from a platform of commercially launched electrolyster products.  Now they can address the clear opportunities within energy storage and clean fuel generation from renewable power to help build a greener environment and Smart Cities within the UK.

ITM Power is now also at the heart of two initiatives that will define the deployment of hydrogen fuel and energy systems in the UK, UKH2Mobility and Ecoisland.

They came to this point by working so hard to develop and build key relationships. The Technology Strategy Board granted a £1.3m grant to ITM Power to fund a hydrogen
storage and vehicle refueling system on the
Isle of Wight, part of the project called Ecoisland. And as a member of UKH2Mobility, ITM Power helps to ensure that the UK is well positioned for the commercial roll-out of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

Connected cities are needed to survive the urban growth

The UK government wants the UK to be the technology centre for Europe this year. But to achieve this, they will have to look at every part of their economy. One area that is being closely looked at lately is our cities. To drive growth, cities need to be more connected. These highly connected cities need to be driven by super-fast connectivity and they can help drive the British innovation over the next few years.

But if the UK wants highly connected cities in the future, they need to start planning things now. And they already have been thinking about this. An example is the Intel Collaborative Research Institute (ICRI) for Sustainable Connected Cities. ICRI is a joint effort between two of London’s top universities: University College and Imperial College London.

Social, economic and environmental challenges need to be tackled and it’s up to this new institute to investigate how technologies can help tackle these issues. They want London to become a ‘smart city lab’ and they want to create a blueprint for ‘connected cities’ in the UK.

So the researchers of this new institute will investigate some of the new intelligent technologies to use on our cities. An example is the network of sensors that can be used to quickly access data on trends for traffic, pollution and water supply. If they have all this data, they can analyze it to see how well the city is operating. Norway already has a centralized data platform like this called ‘CityData’.

A real-life application of this can be the traffic monitoring. Traffic congestions can be monitored and analyzed to develop smart transport timetabled and alerts. Councils could start to target areas to send more wardens, re-route traffic or provide warnings on mobile apps.

But this can only work when you have a huge amount of data at hand. So the right tools and bandwidth need to be in place first before you can start capturing and carrying these high volumes of information. When the connectivity isn’t restricted to just big businesses but to all of the city, innovation and growth can be stimulated and can flourish.

So using data more wisely is a very good new innovative approach to cities. London is already embracing this with as an example the London Gird for Learning (LGFL). All 33 London local authorities are involved in LGFL, and it’s making the most out of a dedicated public services network. It’s already providing schools with new technologies like e-learning tools such as video conferencing, virtual learning platforms and podcasts.

By 2050, there will be about nine billion people on this world, and most of them will be living in urban spaces. If cities don’t prepare systems to manage every aspect of the way a city operates, they will be challenged in all sorts of ways.  So cities need to start investing today in forward-thinking research and super-fast connectivity that will make the ‘connected cities’ reality.

Use of Smart technologies in packaging

There’s a trend going on to incorporate a wide variety of smart technologies into labels and packaging. An example of this is supermarket chain Marks & Spencer. Earlier this year they introduced a new packaging for their strawberry in the UK.  They started using their It’s Fresh! technology in the packaging which increases shelf life.

Eef de Ferrante, director of the recently launched Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association AIPIA, said that it seems that all sectors decided that the time is right to start looking into commercial applications for active and intelligent packaging.

AIPIA, the Dutch company that launched in February, already signed up over 40 blue chip companies from different sectors like the food sector, pharmaceutical and logistics industries. These companies want to drive new technologies out of R&D and into commercial use. AIPIA wants to have a look at the entire supply chain to develop standards, implementation processes and communication platforms which will link production, packaging and logistics to the retailer. Some of their member today include Bayer, Motorola,  Dow Performance Packaging, DSM, NXP and Avery Dennison RFID and also some logistics companies like UPS and retailers like Marks & Spencer.

De Ferrante said that AIPIA, together with their members, is now developing a wide range of intelligent technologies like RFID, Track & Trace, gas scavengers, sensors and more. Together with developments in nano-technology, NFC and mobile commerce, AIPIA now has the ability to bring all these technologies to a huge market.

One of the applications that AIPIA is offering is a mobile technology. Consumers can use their mobiles or smartphones  to communicate with products in supermarket shelves, and this is achieved through technologies on the packaging. Also applications like scanning products with your phone to get a discounts, join loyalty programs and go online to websites catalogues aren’t possibilities anymore, these applications have become reality. But to provide these hi-tech solutions, there is a need for a bread industry network, and AIPIA offers this network.

Amina AITai, founding partner and marketing director at brand innovation lab Immagemme, said that brands need to reevaluate their design process and how they engage with their consumers on packages. Up to now, communication through packaging with consumers has always been one-way and focused on product information. Now brands need to create a two-way dialogue using smart technologies. This is because consumers nowadays want to be involved in the brand, the want to co-create and they can start doing this virtually.

AITai predicts that NFC will become more important, especially RFID, which allows smart phones to engage with tags embedded in packaging. Consumers need to get  an authentic and controlled brand experience while in their local supermarket for example. QR codes were popular the last year but they have some shortcoming which RFID can answer to. For example they often need dedicated apps or they are ineffectively implemented.  With NFC technologies like RFID, consumers can access information faster and more seamlessly.

But the problem is that NFC tags are expensive. QR codes can just be printed on the labels or packages without a significant impact on the price, but more expense is added to the production process when you want to add tags on the package. AITai said that it will probably be a challenge to smoothly incorporate NFC into the design of packages. It’s up to the packaging designers to strike a balance between being on-brand while also being commercial enough for consumer to benefit from the added value of the NFC.

It’s important to realize that the look and feel of a package will always be important because our brains respond to visuals and colors before they decipher words. But this isn’t enough anymore. Modern consumers need an evolved experience, they need to be engaged in an on-going dialogue. So brands need to create an in-store brand experience and increase the brand communication. And one of the ways to do this is the NFC that was just discussed. It can be used to provide additional content and interactive ways to engage the consumer.

Madelyn Postman, from brand design agency Grain Creative, doesn’t believe that there is no future for QR codes. She said that labels and packages lend themselves to the use of QR codes and they provide an opportunity for consumers to engage. An intriguing application of QR codes are the virtual stores. Images of products are displayed on a screen and clients can scan a products QR code to purchase or reserve the item. Tesco created a virtual store at a train station in South Korea, UK retailer Argos ran a similar campaign at London’s Paddington station in the run up to Christmas 2011 and also Chicago will have its own virtual store soon. But it is true that it takes time to open the app needed to read the QR code and scan the code. And this might be one of the reasons that people are losing interest in QR codes.