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Guest Editorial

By: Dr. Nicola Lazenby, Innovation Lead, Energy Team, Clean Growth & Infrastructure, Innovate UK



Dr. Nicola Lazenby

Whilst the magnitude of the problems faced are very different, the key similarity is that both continents require a significant uplift in innovation to achieve their targets, with similar innovation being required in both geographies. Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst Programme aims to bridge these gaps in energy innovation by supporting collaboration and shared learning.

Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst Programme supports innovators and entrepreneurs around the world to develop in-country solutions geared towards providing energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa and South/South East Asia. The programme focuses on innovation that meets the energy trilemma of clean, affordable and sustainable energy whilst supporting gender equality and social inclusion in its development and deployment.

The Energy Catalyst programme provides a variety of activities including: collaboration and brokerage, getting the best innovators working together to achieve common goals; competitive grant funding, to boost technology development within this sector; The Energy Catalyst Accelerator, ensuring innovators develop the know-how to commercialise their technology; facilitated learning events, bring together energy innovators to key insight from the sector, share the best practice and lessons learn working in this space.

One area commonly overlooked in the energy access sector is digital innovation. With ICT infrastructure being responsible for approximately 8% of the global demand for electricity, and the energy usage of data centres growing by an average of 11% per year over the last decade, it is clear an area with a growing demand for innovation in delivering energy efficiency. The Energy Catalyst Programme has supported innovation in this space through a project led by Extreme Low Energy Ltd who conducted a feasibility study to assess an alternative air moving system using piezo actuators for DC-based server cooling, in comparison to conventional fan technologies used for server cooling in data centres for use across Africa.