Today’s Budget announcement marks an increasing recognition of the importance of technology in the UK's future energy and transport systems. Not only will Britain’s road become a living test bed for connected and autonomous vehicle technology, but in committing to smarten up our energy infrastructure the Chancellor recognises the crucial role technology plays in cutting carbon, cutting costs and ensuring security of supply.
Smart energy infrastructure
The Chancellor promised to implement the National Infrastructure Commission’s ‘Smart Power’ recommendations, transforming the UK electricity sector and positioning the UK as a world leader in flexibility and smart energy technologies.
The Budget allocates at least £50 million for innovation in energy storage, demand-side response and other smart technologies over the next five years. As well as a grant of up to £16 million to Dyson to support research and development for battery technology at their site in Malmesbury.
It was also announced that later this year Ofgem will consult on the future of the £100 million Network Innovation Competition, opening up the competition to better enable innovation by non-licensed companies from 2017.
Transport & CAVs
In recognition of smart motorways and the benefits of active traffic management in increasing capacity and managing congestion the Government will carry out feasibility work on 4 major roads in the Midlands. In addition to providing an additional £161m to accelerate transformation of the M62.
The Chancellor also announced a desire to establish the UK as a global centre for excellence in connected and autonomous vehicles.
To support this Government will:
- conduct trials of driverless cars on the strategic road network by 2017
- consult this summer on sweeping away regulatory barriers within this Parliament to enable autonomous vehicles on England’s major roads
- carry out trials of truck platooning on the strategic road network
- pilot a £15m Connected Corridor on the A2-M2 from London to Dover, allowing compatible vehicles to wirelessly communicate with one another and the roadway itself.
A further £38m will also be made available through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK for collaborative R&D into low emission vehicles. Each of the grants will be matched by industry funding.
The full budget report is available here.
The techUK response is available here.
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