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Renewable Energy: Research

Energy and Climate Change written question – answered on 11th June 2009.

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Photo of Ashok Kumar Ashok Kumar Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent assessment he has made of the benefits of increased expenditure on research and development in environmentally friendly technologies for (a) the UK, (b) the North East and (c) Tees Valley.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Minister of State (Department of Energy and Climate Change)

The Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) oversees R and D projects under its collaborative R and D portfolio.

Strategic reviews of LINK, the predecessor scheme to collaborative R and D, indicate that the scheme generated research broadly comparable in terms of quality to research funded by the Research Councils. In addition to this, the LINK review concluded that there had been substantial commercial benefits that enabled more business-relevant long term research, providing a benefit cost ratio of up to 3.8 to 1 and increased profit between £250 million and £500 million.

A more recent review of the first three calls of this portfolio (formerly under DTI's Collaborative Research Programme) also concluded that the net present value of returns from successful projects is well above the investment cost. There is evidence of a high degree of 'additionality', which would not be expected if the projects were likely to produce very high private returns on average. Significant scope for 'positive spillovers' also exists. The most important factor influencing the extent of spillovers is the commercialisation of project outputs. A broad consortium was also found to enhance spillovers.

The Regional Development Agency (RDA) for the North East region, One NorthEast, has not done any direct work assessing the benefits of increased expenditure. It is the role of the RDAs to promote the economic growth of their region through the development and implementation of a regional economic strategy. Innovation as a driver of productivity is a key priority in these plans.

The North East regional economic strategy and action plan has placed significant focus on economic change through energy and environment technologies. This shared regional strategy is based on extensive stakeholder consultation and analysis. It is this knowledge of the region, its assets and industries that informs collaborations and interventions with organisations such as the Technology Strategy Board.

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