UK energy network companies launch plans for joint innovation strategies

The UK’s energy network companies have today published plans for developing their first joint network innovation strategies. The strategies will create exciting opportunities for the UK to benefit from new energy technologies such as battery storage, local renewable electricity generation and low-carbon heat sources such as biomethane and hydrogen. 

Network companies are incentivised under the current RIIO regulatory regime to undertake energy innovation projects that will help create smarter energy grids, reduce carbon emissions and deliver financial benefits to customers. Examples include battery storage and electric vehicle-2-grid innovation projects being developed by electricity networks and gas innovation projects exploring the feasibility of converting the gas grid to hydrogen, biomethane gases generated from household waste, considering how UK regulations could accommodate a wider range of low carbon gases, and testing smarter heating systems in the home.
 
The plans published today set out how companies will develop two joint network innovation strategies – a Gas Network Innovation Strategy and an Electricity Network Innovation Strategy. Each strategy will set out how network companies provide value for money from innovation projects they are undertaking, how they will share the lessons learnt from those projects with other organisations and how they plan to integrate those lessons into their day to day operations. Under the banner of the ENA, the Gas and Electricity groups will work together to ensure the strategies are aligned and whole-energy system benefits are realised.
 
The companies will hold public consultations on their strategies, including events in London, Glasgow and Telford, to ensure that technology developers, policymakers, academics and other stakeholders all have the opportunity to shape the strategies, which will then be submitted to Ofgem on the 31st March 2018.
 
David Smith, CEO of Energy Networks Association, comments:
 
“Network companies are already using innovation projects to drive forward network performance, deliver better value for money and find new ways to harness the potential of energy technologies. These strategies will ensure that both the networks and the customers get the most out of those projects.
 
“But that is only one side of the network innovation coin. The other side is about how we harness the potential of energy technologies to enable new markets and provide new opportunities for consumers to have greater control of their energy bills and reduce their costs.
 
“Whether they are the end-user, a technology developer or a service provider, we want the widest possible range of stakeholders to have the opportunity to take part in this process.”
 
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Notes to editors
 
• The delivery plan for the Electricity Network Innovation Strategy can be found online here
• The delivery plan for the Gas Network Innovation Strategy can be found online here
• A summary of network innovation, including case studies, can be found here
• The consultation events will be held in November in London and Glasgow and at the ENA Low Carbon Network Innovation Conference, Telford, 6-7 December 2017. 
• A wide range of different network innovation projects can be found online through the Smarter Networks Portal online at http://www.smarternetworks.org/
• Energy Networks Association is the voice of the UK’s energy networks, representing the UK’s 15 electricity and gas transmission and distribution network operators.
• ENA members serve over 30 million customers in all corners of the UK, whilst managing £62bn of assets that employ 30,000 people in communities across the country. 
• By 2020 the UK’s energy networks will have delivered £80bn of investment since 1990, whilst reducing costs to the customer by 17%. In the next six years alone they are forecast by Ofgem to deliver £45bn of investment across the UK.
• Ofgem figures show that innovation by our energy networks has already enabled close to £1bn of cost savings that will be delivered between now and 2023, clearly demonstrating the economic potential of smarter networks.