Boosting energy efficiency innovation with the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero

Industrial energy efficiency accelerator impact story

How can energy and resource efficiency innovations scale from prototype to the factory floor?

Industry remains one of the largest emitters globally. In the UK alone, it accounts for 15% (78 megatonnes of CO2e) of the nation’s annual emissions. To minimise this footprint, it is key to reduce the energy and resource intensity of industrial processes and although many proven technologies exist in their early stages, they struggle to scale up. Investors and businesses are often risk-averse to technologies that have yet to be demonstrated within a fully operational production environment.  

The Department for Energy Security & Net Zero sought to tackle this issue head-on to prevent a ‘Death Valley of Innovation’ – where innovations fail before they can be commercialised. Through an accelerator programme, it hoped to demonstrate and prove the commercial viability of select technologies and put these in the hands of industry for testing.



Bringing innovators and industry together through the Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator

In 2017, the Carbon Trust helped to set up the Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA), then funded through the £505 million Energy Innovation Programme. The £10 million IEEA programme was designed to support partnerships between developers of efficient technologies and industrial companies willing to demonstrate innovations on-site. The programme funded, on average, 40-60% of the costs to install the technology for testing and had two interlocking objectives:

  1. Provide support for innovative energy efficiency concepts. 
  2. Cultivate scalable solutions capable of driving the decarbonisation of the industrial sector.

Before launching the programme, we developed the IEEA strategy, its processes and programme structure. Since then, on behalf of the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, we managed this programme with Jacobs’ and Innovate UK KTN’s support. Responsible for all aspects of project delivery, we:


Designed the application and selection processes. By laying out the selection criteria, e.g., replicability and carbon savings potential, we could ensure the right type of innovations apply.

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Raised awareness of the programme through an engagement strategy targeting industry, trade bodies and universities. This helped drive awareness of the IEEA with relevant innovators and industrial companies open to testing technologies to support the development of a high-quality project pipeline.


Matched technology solutions with relevant companies where needed. This ensured companies tested their solutions in the right environment.

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Led project management. From overcoming implementation problems to navigating Covid-19, we ensured projects stayed on track. At the same time, Jacobs provided technical support and checked the carbon savings.

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Developed acceleration plans for each innovation. Whether innovators needed access to further funding, support with patenting or marketing training, we provided tailored scale-up support for each developer, recognising the different factors to bring a product to market.


Showcased projects to relevant sectors and promoted the results across press, events and social media to demonstrate the impact these innovations can have and drive uptake across sectors.


Building confidence in energy efficiency innovations

The IEEA helps to de-risk innovations. The programme allows developers to prove the viability of their technologies to the market. In doing so, industrial companies get access to innovative technologies to understand how to integrate them and drive carbon reduction efforts in their operations.

The technology developers from the first rounds of the IEEA programme have already shown tremendous potential for a wide range of technologies and sectors, including novel dewatering processes for wastewater treatment and low carbon multi-component cement. More examples of demonstrated technologies can be found here.


£1.6 billion

Thanks to energy efficiency improvements from these technologies, £1.6 billion could be saved in energy costs after ten years.


£20 million

Eight companies raised an additional £20 million to scale.

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40.5 TWh

Industry-wide adoption of these innovations could lead to 40.5 TWh in energy savings by 2031 – that is the equivalent of driving five million cars over one year.

Following the programme’s success, the IEEA was expanded in 2022 to support more companies through the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP). The IEEA is currently in its third and fourth rounds, working with 15 new technology developers. As the latest rounds of industrial demonstration continue until at least 2025 – supported through an additional £10 million in funding – the influence and impact of the IEEA will spread.

This will steer more industrial companies towards innovations that will help them minimise energy use while achieving carbon savings. The current rounds of the IEEA also focus on minimising resource intensity, scaling innovations that will allow industry to cut waste and reduce the use of raw materials.

The Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator programme is now funded through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), a £1 billion fund announced in the UK’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution. The plan aims to accelerate the commercialisation of low carbon technologies, systems and business models in industry, power, and the built environment.