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Energy bills are soaring, the Earth is getting hotter and the pressure is on for ever-greener technology. So what’s being done?
Climate change is having a massive impact on the world we live in. According to NASA's latest world temperature analysis, the Earth’s average temperature has increased by at least 1.1° Celsius (1.9° Fahrenheit) since 1880. What’s even more scary is that most of this warming has happened since 1975, at a rate of approximately 0.15 to 0.20°C per decade.
How we create and use energy has become an even bigger priority as utility bills soar and questions are raised about the UK’s reliance on fuel from abroad. Wind and solar power generation in particular is gaining momentum, meaning more of us get our electricity from renewable, clean sources than ever before.
In October last year Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plan for all of Britain’s electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035. That date is now set to be brought forward.
While many MPs and Conservative members have opposed windfarms, there are signs of growing support. Kevin Hollinrake, Tory MP for Thirsk and Malton, said: “England’s planning system has blocked nearly all new onshore wind developments in the past five years, despite this being the cheapest source of new electricity generation. Reforming these rules, while ensuring communities still get a meaningful say, will spur investment in homegrown clean energy and accelerate our transition away from expensive fossil fuels.”
But whilst this is important progress, there’s still plenty more investment in innovation to be done.
The simple fact is that 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions are due to creating electricity - and that figure is growing; the time to innovate is now.
It seems there are two challenges here, with the first being about harnessing the power of the wind and the sun. Thankfully the prices of things like wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable technology is coming down but we need to keep up momentum.
The second challenge is more tricky and perhaps less obvious. It involves making breakthroughs in technologies that mean we are still able to supply the power grid with clean energy even when the weather is cloudy, still and at night time.
One of the most important ways of cutting our carbon emissions is also in energy storage. Let’s look at this further.
There are four main areas of innovation when it comes to improving how energy is stored. These are batteries, zero-carbon fuels, thermal storage and pumped hydro.
Trusty lithium-ion batteries, like those used in mobile phones, laptops and electric cars for example, are one of the fastest growing solutions for energy storage - but they only retain energy short term. Research and development (R&D) is currently being undertaken on a new class of batteries designed to provide storage for far longer than standard lithium ion batteries at a much reduced cost.
Another exciting potential energy storage solution is zero-carbon fuels. These include fuels produced using wind and solar energy that can be made back into electricity or used for de-carbonising other sectors.
Thermal-powered storage technologies have the potential to provide a reliable, flexible power backup system for the national grid. It’s been discovered that a particularly effective way to store heat is in molten salt. Innovative work has begun in developing a molten salt thermal technology that works in the same way as a heat pump. Renewable energy is stored as heat in molten salt and when discharged, the system works like a heat engine using heat to create electricity.
Nuclear power has been a source of carbon-free electricity for quite a while already and produces around 10% of the world’s power. It also has the potential to be a very reliable source of sustainable energy, however high costs and safety concerns in recent years have been a problem.
Innovation in nuclear power could hold the key to creating a new generation of nuclear energy that would be less wasteful, lower cost and of course safer. This is a real challenge, but one which sustained investment in R&D by both private companies and the government could work to solve for the future.
Any form of research and development (R&D) will incur costs that companies need to meet. To help encourage innovation and growth, the UK government offers financial assistance in the form of R&D Tax Credits. This lucrative tax relief means the chance to offset some of the costs via either a reduction in their Corporation Tax or a cash lump sum.
Eligible R&D projects and costs that can be included in a claim are many and varied (we’re not just talking green technologies either!) They include everything from staff salaries and expenses to materials to utilities and much more. It also doesn’t matter whether your company is in profit or not, or what sector it’s in; if some element of scientific or technological advancement then it’s likely to qualify. Up to 33% of costs can be claimed back, depending on whether the SME branch of the scheme or RDEC is used.
Myriad Associates consists of a team of R&D tax specialists and advisors who deal with R&D tax relief claims on a daily basis. Although the application process is notoriously tricky, we know where the pitfalls lie and how to compile your claim for the very best chance of success.
Our team is highly trained and experienced and will work on your claim on your behalf, so you know it’s completely watertight.
Take the first step towards starting your claim by reading through our R&D Tax Credits page. You can then calculate the tax relief your innovative company is owed by running your figures through our R&D tax calculator.
Don’t forget we’re on hand to answer any questions and offer advice - just call us on 0207 118 6045. Alternatively use our contact page and we’ll get back to you.
With average UK R&D tax relief claims running at £55,000 can your company afford to miss out?