UK’s electricity networks set out new opportunities for energy innovators to help deliver £1.7bn of benefits

Date: 20th November 2017

Release: Immediate

Electricity network companies will today publish a strategy setting out how energy innovators can work with network companies to deliver as much as £1.7bn of benefits back to the UK energy system over the next decade, as Energy Networks Association launches the consultation phase for its Electricity Network Innovation Strategy.

 Independent research carried out by Pöyry has shown that innovation projects by local electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) could deliver up to £1.7bn of benefits by 2031. These projects and services could deliver major savings to billpayers in the years ahead by ensuring that our networks evolve to new demands in the most cost-efficient way possible.

 Innovation projects, which often include contracting new and innovative energy services from other companies, play a vital role in helping DNOs learn how to manage the changes taking place in our energy market. These changes mean they are moving from their traditional role of simply passively distributing electricity to playing a more active role managing supply and demand locally. This is as a result of new forms of technology such as solar PV and wind farms, battery storage and electric vehicles being connected to the grid.

 Projects to date include examples of how network companies are providing quicker and cheaper network connections for generators, reducing the need to build back-up sources of generation for renewables, integrating battery storage into the grid and enabling more effective planning for electric vehicles. Many of these and other projects provide opportunities for network companies to work with other energy innovators.

 The Strategy sets outs short, medium and long term innovation project plans, highlighting current and future areas of focus and describes:

 A joint roadmap to address challenges and uncertainties facing the industry and how the benefits from these projects will be delivered

  • How third party energy innovators can more easily identify opportunities to undertake new projects and work more closely with network operators to do so
  • How energy network companies can get the best possible value from innovation projects, by sharing practical information about the lessons learnt from them, and the new opportunities that could create for innovation in the future
  • Ways in which network operators can collaborate further to develop a common approach to tackling strategic industry issues, such as those related to the connection of renewable generation or the roll-out of smart meters.

 David Smith, CEO at Energy Networks Association comments:

 “Network innovation in our sector means that the UK is rapidly emerging as a world leader in developing smarter networks that build the foundations for our energy future. The Electricity Network Innovation Strategy is not just about both ensuring that network companies are able to access the newest and most innovative services to do that; it is also about how networks are embedding a culture of innovation within their organisations

 “We want to ensure energy innovators are fully aware of the opportunities available to them and the consultation gives stakeholders the chance to help shape that process. We warmly welcome their views.”

 The Strategy will be published for consultation today with events to discuss it being held this week in both Glasgow (21st) and London (23rd), and at the LCNI Conference in early December. It follows the launch of ENA’s Gas Network Innovation Strategy earlier this month.


 Notes to Editors

  • Examples of projects by energy network companies include:
    • 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.
  • Network companies are currently developing joint innovation strategies for both and gas and electricity networks which will play a key role in driving forward new energy innovation 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.
  • More information on the Gas Network Innovation Strategy can be found here.
  • Independent research commissioned by Poyry 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.
  • Feedback will feed into the draft Electricity Network Innovation Strategy document, due to be published on Friday 30th March 2018.
  • There will be further opportunities for stakeholder engagement at ENA's LCNI Conference in Telford from the 5-7th December 2017.
  • ENA is also holding two free stakeholders’ workshops in Glasgow and London on 21st and 23rd November respectively.
  • For further information on the Electricity Network Innovation Strategy please contact [email protected] 
  • 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