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£40m energy innovation competition begins today

16 September 2020

Up to £40m investment is up for grabs for Britain’s leading energy innovators, as Energy Networks Association launches the Call for Ideas for the Network Innovation Competition.


Focusing on Britain’s local electricity networks, this year’s competition is designed to support a range of large-scale innovation projects in communities across the country. Overseen by Ofgem, network companies and their partners will compete for funding for the development and demonstration of new energy technologies that will help run energy network infrastructure in a smarter, cleaner and more flexible way.

The Call is being run by Energy Networks Association which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses. Successful applicants will work with the electricity network companies themselves to compete for up to £40 million available for projects.

Successful projects from 2019 included:

  1. DC Share project being run by Western Power Distribution which is looking at finding a new way of delivering rapid electric vehicle (EV) charging hubs; and
  2. Resilience as a service (RAAS) being run by SSEN which aims to deliver a project supporting low-carbon solutions for maintaining network resilience.

Proposals will need to fit with the priority areas, set out in the Electricity Network Innovation Strategy. This year’s focus is on enabling an accelerated pathway to net zero emissions along with developing new ways of addressing customer vulnerability.

Innovation in the energy system has never been more important as we look to meet our net zero  emissions targets while delivering value for the public. Research from the National Infrastructure Commission has identified up to £8bn of savings a year that can be made from energy networks investing in innovative smart power technologies.

David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses said:

“We need to be relentless in our focus on innovation. The progress network operators have made to date has helped to significantly cut carbon emissions in the most efficient way possible way for the public.

“This is an exciting chance for innovators to deliver projects that will make a real difference to the way networks operate in communities up and down the country. We want to hear from the widest range of energy innovators as possible to help deliver the smarter, cleaner and more flexible energy system the public need.”

The call for ideas opens on 17 September and closes on 30 October at 5pm. Full details of the Call can be found on Energy Networks Association’s Network Innovation Collaboration Portal.

Notes to editor

  • Since 2004, over 2000 innovation projects have been delivered across both gas and electricity networks, allowing network operators to better understand how to integrate new energy technologies such as electric vehicles, renewable distributed generation and decarbonised sources of gas into our energy system.
  • Innovation is a key element of the existing RIIO price control mechanism. One of the principal processes to encourage innovation in the energy industry is through an annual competition for funding known as the Network Innovation Competition (NIC), which is provided to networks by Ofgem.
  • It is typically applicable to large-scale projects and funding will be provided for the best innovation projects which help the network operators understand what they need to do to facilitate innovation as we move to a low carbon economy.
  • Before submitting an idea innovators should ensure it meets the Electricity NIC Governance Documents.
  • The Call can be found on ENA’s Network Innovation Collaboration Portal which includes links the form for submission of proposals.
  • The latest Electricity Innovation Strategy document was published on 31 March 2020. The strategy has been designed to identify the most important challenges and opportunities facing Great Britain’s energy networks in supporting the delivery of the UK’s Net Zero carbon emissions targets, and delivering essential services to customers across the country.
  • On Thursday 8 October 2020, ENA will be hosting a webinar to share more information about the Call for Ideas, answer your questions and give you the opportunity to query the DNOs. The webinar link will be shared closer to time. 

About us

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the energy networks. Our members include every major electricity network operator in the UK. The electricity networks are at the heart of the energy transition. They directly employ more than 26,000 people in the UK, including 1,500 apprentices. They are spending and investing £33bn in our electricity grids over the coming years, to ensure safe, reliable and secure energy supplies for the millions of homes and businesses reliant on power every day.

Press contacts

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