Ofgem invests £62m to deliver smarter energy network for consumers

Ofgem has announced funding of £62.8 million for nine innovation projects as part of its revolutionary innovation competition to deliver a smarter energy network for consumers.

The funding is provided under Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition (NIC), which encourages energy network companies to enhance innovation to reduce costs for consumer while helping deliver a low carbon future. When combined with additional contributions from the companies and external funding this will see over £100 million being invested in innovation.

In total, there was £99 million of NIC funding available for the eleven projects which had applied for funding under the schemes. However, Ofgem could not be confident that all projects clearly demonstrated good value to customers at this stage, resulting in two missing out on funding this year.

Successful projects this year include:

• Developing a commercially viable facility that can process waste, convert it to gas and distribute it through the existing gas network to consumers.

• Delivering solutions to manage excessive temperatures at distribution substations, allowing better use to be made of existing assets and reducing long-term costs for consumers.

• Testing new designs of pylons that are smaller, better for the environment and can be used in rural and difficult to access areas.

• Working with Leeds City Council to test arrangements to power some of their refuse collection vehicles using gas from the network.

Maxine Frerk, senior partner for distribution, said: “Ofgem’s innovation competitions encourage the companies to deliver a smarter network for consumers. Investments in networks have a real potential to connect more renewable generators, and enhance security of supply in a more cost efficient way.

“The nine projects receiving funding today show how new sources and uses of gas together with smarter grids can benefit consumers by making the energy system more secure and cost effective. As with all the projects we have funded we expect to see learning from these projects being shared across industry and are pleased to see many of the earlier projects now being rolled out across companies and delivering real benefits for consumers.”