Friday 6th October marked the first meeting of a new West Midlands Regional Energy Policy Commission chaired by Sir David King and supported by a panel of experts from industry, academia and policy.

The objective of the Regional Energy Policy Commission is to secure national political support and visibility for the establishment of Energy Innovation Zones (EIZs) in selected parts of the West Midlands. The model will initially be piloted in at least four high-profile locations across the region and subsequently rolled out nationally.

The concept of EIZs has been developed in the West Midlands to provide the missing link within the UK innovation eco-system for energy, particularly clean, low carbon energy solutions. A managed-risk approach to transforming the UK energy system in line with global developments, the West Midlands’ concept of EIZ’s is all about creating commercial markets for new approaches to local energy systems. The aim is to attract substantial private investment to deliver lower cost energy for local communities, often by exploiting technology in new ways, creating new markets and allowing experimentation and demonstration of new technologies in a commercial context. This will increase the West Midlands businesses capability to compete internationally. EIZ’s are expected to be much more than demonstration zones: they are a better way to build markets for innovation.

Sir David King and the commissioners will work together to produce a comprehensive report that details the existing challenges, provides evidence-based recommendations and also outlines the scope of opportunity that could be created by Energy Innovation Zones in the West Midlands. This report will be launched simultaneously for local and central government officials in London on 27th March 2018 and publicly in the West Midlands on 28th March.

Commissioners include; Patrick Allcorn, Head of Local Energy, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department; Jonathan Berry, Innovation and Low Carbon Networks Engineer, Western Power Distribution; Martin Crouch, Senior Partner, Ofgem; Philip Farrell, Development Director, UK Central Solihull Urban Growth Company; Professor Martin Freer, Director of Birmingham Energy Institute, Head of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham; Sir Richard Friend, Professor of Physics, University of Cambridge; Dr. Caroline Kuzemko, Assistant Professor in International Political Economy, The University of Warwick; Dr. Stephen Marland, Emerging Technology and Innovation Manager, National Gird; Philip New, Chief Executive Officer, Energy Systems Catapult;  Matthew Rhodes, Chair of Energy Capital; Ilias Vazaios, Partner, Ecuity.

The Regional Energy Policy Commission is jointly funded by the University of Birmingham and Energy Systems Catapult.