Driving an energy transition in The West Midlands

The West Midlands has set an ambitious plan to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2041. As a major industrial hub, this will be challenging. To meet its goals, it has set out a bold plan to transform its economy to drive deep cuts in energy consumption and costs, whilst also creating a local green energy and emissions reductions market.

Mapping the challenge

EIT Climate-KIC led a number of workshops with city stakeholders to identify strategic projects and working arrangements. This mapping included engagement with five other cities to share lessons, including Frankfurt which had many similarities to the region, and provided a valuable model for the region. These workshops mapped partners and relationships in energy, buildings and mobility, and formalised existing loose relationships. This led to the establishment of Energy Capital, a new body which would oversee an innovation partnership between the West-Midland Combined Authority, local businesses and academia.

By responding to the needs of its vibrant manufacturing economy and diverse local markets, Energy Capital aims to make the West Midlands one of the world’s most attractive locations to build a clean energy company. 

Framing the intervention strategy

Energy Capital is tasked with reducing local energy demand, and creating a new market for locally generated renewable heat and energy. The project takes a systemic approach, establishing infrastructure, skills, and financial mechanisms to shift local energy demands, and create local innovations which provide greener energy. These systemic changes will be delivered by Five Energy Innovation Zones across the region, which will map demands of industry, housing and transport, then nurture innovations which meet these demands.

The EIZs are directing infrastructure investment and policy levers towards stimulating new approaches to energy use, such as a heating grid and electric and hydrogen refuelling points, and use these to create test beds for low carbon innovations.

Each zone will provide targeted demonstrators, accelerators, training, and business support, aligned to specific local goals.

Energy Capital will coordinate the work across the region ensuring a joined-up approach. To deliver this ambitious set of goals, EIT Climate-KIC has helped Energy Capital create a portfolio of connected interventions – some of which we are also delivering – strategically aligned to the region’s energy needs.

Orchestrating an innovation portfolio

The West Midlands’ portfolio of innovation interventions includes:

  • Tyseley and Birmingham EIZ: This EIZ is optimising the city’s 350,000 tonnes of waste for energy and heating, and creating a distributed heating grid for homes and businesses. It will establish clean transport infrastructure and create demonstrators for energy storage and waste-to-energy technologies. It will direct city planning powers to improve energy performance of buildings, creating new markets for low carbon innovations.
  • Black Country EIZ: This EIZ will secure investment to develop clean energy generation to deliver local power at competitive prices, attracting advanced manufacturing to the region. Investment will be encouraged through policy measures such as simplification of supply exemptions; local incentives; and matchmaking between energy generators, Distribution Network Operators and industrial energy users.
  • UK Central EIZ: As home to many energy intensive users, this EIZ hopes to use the concentration of electricity and heat demand to create opportunities for clean energy and building efficiency innovation. Specific opportunities have been identified including for a low-carbon heat network and a hydrogen hub.
  • Coventry and Warwickshire EIZ: This EIZ is focussed on meeting growing electricity demand through cost-effective clean energy solutions and developing infrastructure for connected autonomous vehicles.
  • Rugeley EIZ: This EIZ will oversee redeveloped the 350-acre site of Rugeley’s decommissioned coal power station to include ~2000 homes. It will ensure these are developed with energy efficiency in mind, as well as assessing retrofitting existing homes, and generating power for new residents, including through repurposing subterranean cooling tank and surface water lake.
  • Netform: The project seeks to develop a mobile application and secure data platform to manage massed parked hybrid and electric vehicles at the location of the HS2 Interchange Station in Solihull, while maximising their value to both network operator and car owner.

Featured Projects in the West Midlands

Regional Innovation Platform for Energy (RIPE)

This project will inform the design of an Energy Capital regional innovation platform to advance and validate new business models in energy, thereby speeding the transition to sustainable energy systems.

Transition Cities

Birmingham worked with Budapest, Bologna, Frankfurt, Valencia and Wroclaw to develop a model to help cities move towards a more sustainable, low carbon future and signal a clearer and more coordinated intent to the market for innovative products and services required to achieve it.

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Transition Cities
Energy Prospectus

The project explored packaging energy-related projects into ‘bundles’ of investable propositions in the city, and began developing of a prospectus of energy-related projects to develop a pipeline of activity that has potential for external investment, aligned to city planning.


Munep2 developed innovative planning software that simulates the operational and logistical aspects of running a bus service, supporting planning for implementing electrification strategies. Potential users include municipal offices, urban developers, transport providers, transport operators, traffic managers and vehicle manufacturers.

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Engineering Pathways to the Implementation of Circularity

This project explored how to combine findings from large-scale city research projects with real-world challenges around circularity in the private sector to identify potential enablers for change, working specifically with Engie.


This Pan-European Pathfinder Project investigated potential for electric vehicles to be used to tackle transport poverty and reduce emissions in outer city communities across four Climate KIC regions. It tested financial mechanisms, technical feasibility and community willingness to use electric car share vehicles, and developed business models.

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Climate-KIC Programmes in The West Midlands

Climate-KIC Accelerator

The Climate-KIC Accelerator is the only EU acceleration programme focused on climate impact by cleantech commercialisation. The 18-month program provides entrepreneurs with the knowledge, resources, tools and the coaching to succeed as a cleantech start-up.

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Climate-KIC Accelerator