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Future projects and ideas

Our primary sources of innovation funding are facilitated through Ofgem, the industry regulator. Ofgem has established a variety of funding mechanisms to develop future networks that support the Government’s net-zero commitments. In RIIO-ED1 Ofgem introduced the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) and Network Innovation Competition (NIC) to replace the previous schemes.

Developing and delivering innovation projects for the future of energy in GB involves a wide range of parties to ensure suitable solutions. We understand that third parties, both with a history in the energy industry and not, have a significant role to play in the innovation and transition required.

We rely on innovation to maintain our position as a frontier performer in network performance and customer service. Innovation is targeted at all of the key outputs safety, cost efficiency, customer service, reliability and environment. In the past innovation has proved beneficial by allowing us to continually improve in these areas. Future innovation will allow us to continue these improvements and will also help us to address the challenges brought about by the net-zero commitment.

We’re committed to increasing the level of third party interaction further, with a particular focus on third party originated projects on our key focus and priority areas, through our individual NIA calls and the NIC electricity and gas collaborative call managed through ENA.

Third party calls for proposals

Our approach

We have, to date, run three NIC calls, two individually and the last collaboratively with all other LNOs through ENA. Five of the seven bid submissions were third party project proposals. These proposals have focussed on our innovation themes of assets, customers and operations as well as the five innovation themes in the ENA Electricity Innovation Strategy.

We are committed to continuing with ENA’s collaborative call for NIC proposals as well as co-generating ideas with organisations, principally on our current focus and priority areas, as set out in our Innovation Forward Plan.

Our previous NIA calls have either focussed on specific needs from our Innovation Strategy or a wider industry need, however, moving forwards we will use our Innovation Forward Plan to outline the key areas for innovation and our current innovation needs, as highlighted in the problem statements and challenges section.

Future calls

Our future calls for project proposals will all be made available on ENA’s Collaboration Portal, Achilles and our innovation website to ensure as wide an engagement as possible. Those registered for website updates will receive an email notification once the call is open. To register for website updates, please click here.

We are always keen to receive project proposals from third parties and particularly new entrants with disruptive innovations to provide step change solutions to deliver the future outcomes to shape the operation of a DSO and facilitate the low carbon transition.

It is critical that proposals to our calls adhere to the Ofgem NIA and NIC Governance and we’d encourage organisations to review these prior to submitting a proposal, specifically in terms of the

criteria to enable funding and the intellectual property conditions to ensure value is delivered to customers.

NIA 2020

In 2020 we plan to run two NIA calls in January and June.

January 2020

This call focused on the existing data challenge as part of the Data priority as discussed in our Innovation Forward Plan. This call is now closed.

June 2020

Our second NIA call was due to run in April 2020, however due to the current situation with Covid-19, we are now pushing this call back to June 2020.

NIC 2020

As in 2018 and 2019 the call for NIC project proposals will be managed and coordinated by ENA with the call released in September. Both of the gas and electricity industry strategies are currently being updated (for release in March), where there will be greater correlation between gas and electricity themes to further engage and encourage wholes system NIC proposals. Projects that meet one of our key focus and priority areas, and have a clear alignment with an ENA innovation strategy theme, will be of most interest.

Wider submission of project ideas

If you have an innovation project idea outside of one of our calls for proposals please submit your idea using the form here.

As with the call for proposals we’re keen to develop innovation projects that align to our Innovation Strategy and Forward Plan.

Please note that we will not be accepting ideas using this form when we have a live call for proposals.