A group of Midland universities, including Birmingham, will lead Britain's £1 billion bid to develop low-carbon energies of the future to tackle climate change.

The consortium was confirmed by the Government yesterday as the hub of the pioneering energy saving drive.

It will see the creation of the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) set up to find new ways to help "secure the well-being of future generations".

The ten-year programme could have a fundamental impact on the way we live our lives.

Academic experts at the universities are to work with major companies such as BP and Shell to research and build innovative new energy-saving technology.

Birmingham is to lead the drive along with the universities of Nottingham and Loughborough in Leicestershire, where the institute will be located.

Professor Michael Sterling, vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said: 'We are delighted that the Midlands consortium has won the bid to host the Energy Technologies Institute.

"At Birmingham we have a proud heritage in science and engineering and our large scale institute for energy research and policy will make a real contribution to the work of the consortium."

Professor Sir Colin Campbell, vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham, added: "The choice of the Midlands consortium is a measure of the quality and attractiveness of our intellectual capital at The University of Nottingham and at Birmingham and Loughborough.

"Most importantly, it will allow us to make the most of our shared determination to help secure the well-being of future generations through our science and innovation."

The ETI is partly funded by the Government and partly by industry. The other companies taking part are Caterpillar, EDF Energy, E.ON UK and Rolls-Royce.

The Midland consortium was one of five shortlisted in May out of 28 that applied to lead the race to find solutions to avoid global warming.

Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands said gaining the prestigious contract was further proof of the strength of the area's universities.

Director of innovation Dr Philip Extance, said: "The location of the ETI hub in the Midlands pays testament not only to their research strength but also to the potential strength of firms in the regions to exploit the technology that is developed."

The new institute will seek to speed up the drive to find cost-effective low-carbon energy technologies that can be commercially applied.

Among other things, the universities will conduct research into alternative ways of powering vehicles and other machinery in the future that will be less harmful to the environment.

One of the areas boffins at Birmingham University will focus on is the possible use of hydrogen as the fuel of tomorrow's cars.

Nottingham will specialise in developing new power stations and energy-efficient buildings, while Loughborough is likely to look into environmentally-friendly transport and electrical systems.

Ways of "capturing" carbon from the atmosphere and storing it will also be explored.

Ministers believe the ETI's work will provide a strong national strategic focus for efforts to meet climate change goals.