AN ENERGY revolution could be kick-started in Oxfordshire with the creation of a new ‘cluster’ of high tech companies and researchers.

Some of Britain’s best minds will base themselves at the Harwell Campus to work out solutions to solving the key challenges in how our homes and transport are powered in the future.

It comes as energy storage experts the Faraday Institution opens its headquarters on the campus and launches a government-backed challenge to create the next generation of battery, capable of supporting the switch to a more electric-powered world.

Business Secretary Greg Clark yesterday sent his support to the scheme, saying it will help the UK take the lead in creating new technologies that will change the way people live, travel and work.

The cluster will be the third at Harwell, after space and health, and sees partnerships between the area’s universities, industry and public sector to work on challenges including carbon neutral alternatives to fossil fuels and creating smart technologies for building design.

Barbara Ghinelli, business development director at the campus, said: “Our aim is to make a huge impact on the UK energy sector.

“We want to create a pipeline which sees cutting edge research and development transformed into products and services that make a difference to the way we are storing and disseminating energy.

“It will see new products developed and tested in real life situations to ensure they are useable by real people.

“Since we started the space cluster it has grown hugely and we thought that we could replicate this and use the fantastic nucleus of facilities and organisations based here to make a big difference.”

At the launch scientists heard from Professor John Goodenough, now 95, who led the last revolution in battery power while at Oxford University.

Prof. Goodenough’s team developed the rechargeable li-ion battery in 1980 which is credited with transforming the personal electronics industry and now powers everything from mobile phones to medical equipment.

As a plaque was unveiled to celebrate his achievements, Prof. Goodenough urged scientists to come up with new ideas to replace his invention.

Tony Harper, the director of the Faraday battery challenge, said the UK’s battery needs were set to sky-rocket in the coming decades, driven mostly by the move to electric vehicles.

He added: “We currently make two and half million engines in the UK and we will need to eventually replace all of them.

“We basically have to create a whole new industry that doesn’t exist at the moment.

“As a country we could sit on the bank and watch them being shipped across the channel on boats or we could lead in creating the technology we are all going to need.

“There is still an awful lot of stuff we need to learn. It took 100 years to develop the car engine and we are at about the same stage now with batteries as we were with engines 100 years ago but we have much less time to do it in.”

“It’s one of the biggest challenges we face and that is why the government is backing it so heavily.”