The voice of the networks

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#NetworksTenPointPlan - Investing and innovating

13 December 2020

The energy networks have spent decades mobilising tens of billions of private capital for the solutions our future energy market needs


If recent announcements from the Government and organisations like the Committee on Climate Change are anything to go by, the energy networks have a central role in fulfilling our net zero commitments. Already foundational to the decarbonation we have witnessed in recent years – connecting gigawatts of renewables on and offshore whilst becoming more flexible and adaptable – these businesses are now at the forefront of the innovation we need ahead of 2050. More will be needed and not just from the energy networks and that’s why we’re calling on the Government to match the EU’s target for 3% of GDP to be invested in research and development of the technologies which will make us fit for the future.

Flexible and smart

Central to delivering the volumes of renewables we need to power our future economy is creating a smart, digitalised and flexible system. Flexibility will need to go far beyond balancing the whole system; it needs to be localised. The UK is a world-leader in local flexibility with 2GW tendered in local flexibility markets, delivering the right solutions in the right places at the time needed and least cost to the consumer.

Investing nationally and locally

Energy network companies have historically been able to raise billions of pounds of private capital at best value for the public – over £100bn since 1990 - spreading the cost of doing so across many years. Network companies also have their own funding schemes; ScottishPower Energy Networks have run the Green Economy Fund since 2018, awarding millions of pounds to the innovators and organisations with the solutions needed to accelerate towards a green economy.

Greening gas

Making up a critical component in shifting away from natural gas, the UK’s gas networks are paving the way in how to use and transport hydrogen in a safe, efficient, and cost-effective way. There are five major trials already well underway, trials which are exploring how to make, distribute and use hydrogen at scale, including confirming how much hydrogen our existing system and appliances can handle with no major changes and how to convert an entire city to run on hydrogen.

Working with the regulator

Every year ENA runs a Network Innovation Competition and holds an Energy Networks Innovation Conference. Bringing forward the solutions of the future is right at the heart of what we and our members do. The winners of this annual competition are then submitted to Ofgem who decide if they qualify for investment. One of the recent winners was Electricity North West’s QUEST scheme which manages the increased peaks and troughs we’re going to see in demand as we shift towards renewables and electrify much of our heating and transport. Using intelligent systems, the scheme automatically monitors the voltage of the network without compromising the service.

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

You can contact ENA's press office by emailing For urgent or out-of-hours enquiries from journalists, please call 0204 599 7691.