Gas and electricity networks turn up focus on innovation ahead of the UK’s largest smart grid conference

Date: 22nd November 2017

Release: Immediate

The UK’s gas and electricity networks are turning up their focus on energy innovation this week, as they prepare for the seventh annual Low Carbon Network Innovation (LCNI) Conference in Telford.

Today marks the two week countdown to the opening of the event, which is the UK’s largest public electricity and gas smart grid conference. Hosted by Energy Networks Association (ENA), it brings together all of the UK’s gas and electricity network companies with Government, regulators and key industry spokespeople to provide attendees with a unique opportunity to discuss electricity and gas smart grid innovation with stakeholders from all parts of the country and the energy sector. Attendees will also see first-hand how energy network infrastructure is changing to adapt to the challenges of a fast changing energy market.

Contributors this year include senior representatives of BEIS, Ofgem, Energy Systems Catapult, Imperial College, Newcastle University and Strathclyde University. The event will use an innovative, interactive presentation that will facilitate live polling of the audience in real time.

Independent research carried out by Pöyry has shown that innovation projects by local electricity networks could deliver up to £1.7bn of benefits by 2031. KPMG research has shown that a whole-systems approach to energy innovation based on our evolution of our gas networks could save consumers as much as £200bn by 2050.

The Conference will also feature the launch of the Open Networks End of Year Report and host a major joint consultation event on the gas and electricity network Innovation Strategies, published earlier this month. Open Networks has been identified by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy as a ‘key’ energy industry initiative that will transform the way our energy networks work, underpinning the delivery of the smart grid.

David Smith, CEO of Energy Networks Association, comments:

“As the UK’s largest electricity and gas smart grid conference, the LCNI Conference has an important role in bringing together some of the UK’s leading stakeholders in energy innovation. Active in communities and regions across the UK, our networks are already recognised as some as the most innovative in the world and are responsible for ensuring that all of our households, businesses and communities benefit from that. This event is a must-attend conference for anyone with an interest in that.

“As our networks rise to the challenges of decarbonisation, there is a huge opportunity for consumers, for businesses and for energy innovators to play role. We look forward to warmly welcome attendees to Telford to be part of that.”

Over 50 exhibitors, alongside network companies, are expected to present their innovation projects that have been awarded funding under the Low Carbon Networks Fund, Network Innovation Allowance and Network Innovation Competition funding mechanisms. Projects include examples of how network companies are providing quicker and cheaper network connections for generators, integrating battery storage into the grid, enabling more effective planning for electric vehicles and on the gas side investigating the use of hybrid heating systems, converting the gas network for use with hydrogen, and investigating the use of new combinations of gasses in residential networks. 

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 Notes to Editors

  • The Low Carbon Network Innovation (LCNI) Conference will be held from the 5th – 7th December 2017 and attendance is open to anyone.
  • The LCNI Conference website can be found here. Tickets are available to purchase online here and a full conference programme can be found here.
  • Examples of projects by energy network companies that will be presented at LCNI include:
    • Northern Gas Network’s H21 Leeds Citygate Project, which is exploring converting the existing natural gas network in Leeds, one of the largest UK cities, to 100% hydrogen.
    • Cadent’s HyDeploy project at Keele University which aims to inject hydrogen into the existing natural gas network.
    • Wales & West Utilities’ and Western Power Distribution’s FREEDOM Project which aims to investigate the feasibility of the use of heat pumps as part of a hybrid heating system
    • SGN’s Real-Time Networks project which aims to demonstrate a flexible and intelligent gas network by establishing Great Britain’s customer gas demand by recording how much gas is needed and when
    • Electricity North-West’s CLASS project, which has successfully demonstrated that demand for electricity can be reduced without customers noticing a difference to their supply.
    • Northern Powergrid & Northern Gas Network’s InTEGRal project, which researches how gas and electricity networks can work together to deliver breakthroughs in the decarbonisation of heat, energy storage and transport.
    • Scottish & South Energy Networks NINES project, which has created a self-sufficient smart grid in the remote Shetland Isles.
    • SP Energy Networks’ FITNESS project, which looks at new ways to lower the costs of building electricity substation costs whilst helping reduce constraint payments to generators
    • Western Power Distribution’s Electric Nation project, which develops methods to identify which parts of the network are likely to be affected by electric vehicle and vehicle to grid (V2G) uptake
    • UK Power Networks’ Smarter Network Storage project, the first grid‐scale battery storage project in the UK.
  • The Electricity Network Innovation Strategy has been published here and the deadline for response to the consultation on the Electricity Network Innovation Strategy is Friday 15th December 2017.
  • The Gas Network Innovation Strategy consultation can be found here and the deadline for response to the consultation on the Electricity Network Innovation Strategy is Friday 22nd December 2017.
  • Independent research commissioned by Pöyry conducted in October 2016 for Ofgem estimated that future net benefits resulting from innovation projects carried out with funding from the Low Carbon Network Fund were between £1.1bn to £1.7bn (p.78). The report can be found online here.
  • Independent research by KPMG conducted in 2016 estimated that an evolution of the UK’s existing gas networks to meet our decarbonisations targets could save consumers £214bn, when compared to the cost of totally electrifying our energy system
  • For press inquiries please contact:

Ed Gill

UK & European Head of Press and Public Affairs

Energy Networks Association

E: [email protected]

T: +44 (0) 20 7706 5157   M: +44 (0) 7725 372 758