Ofgem announces Network Innovation winners
Ofgem has awarded up to £58m to five projects in the 2020 Network Innovation Competition to help support the transition to a net zero emissions economy at the lowest cost to consumers.
Winning gas innovation projects include a world first trial of a 100% green hydrogen network for 300 households in Fife to use hydrogen to cook and heat their homes instead of gas.
Electricity projects which have secured funding are aimed at boosting the grid’s flexibility to better manage more intermittent renewable generation and surges in demand as well as its capacity, thereby reducing the need for expensive reinforcement.
As part of Ofgem’s current network price controls, companies bid for funding through the annual Network Innovation Competition to test new technologies and approaches which help cut both carbon emissions and costs for consumers.
By developing crucial knowledge and expertise across the industry, innovation pioneered by previous winners has helped put the UK on the path to net zero and saved consumers millions of pounds on their energy bills.
Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said: “The high level of ambition shown by bidders in this year’s Network Innovation Competition is hugely encouraging and shows the energy industry getting behind the challenge of net zero.
“The winning projects were those which showed the most potential to make the game-changing leaps in technology we need to build a greener, fairer energy system at the lowest cost to consumers.
“Ofgem will continue to back the best of innovation, which will help drive the green recovery and enable consumers to reap the benefits up to 2050 and beyond.”
1. The two winning gas projects are:
- Delivering a first of its kind 100% green hydrogen generation, storage and distribution network to heat 300 homes. The hydrogen would be manufactured using offshore wind power – H100 Fife, awarded up to £18m (SGN). Ofgem’s decision triggers a further investment of £6.9million from the Scottish Government.
- Building a hydrogen test facility using decommissioned gas transmission infrastructure to better understand how hydrogen interacts with existing network transmission – HyNTS FutureGrid, awarded £9.07m (National Grid Gas Transmission).
2. The three winning electricity projects are:
- Developing new platforms to digitally upgrade electricity substations to better manage variable low carbon power generation and surges in demand, even when communication links to central systems are lost – Constellation, awarded £14.38m (UK Power Networks).
- Integrating standalone voltage control schemes into a single system to create a “self-balancing” network which unlocks capacity and reduces the need for network reinforcement – QUEST, awarded £7.95m (Electricity North West).
- Upgrading electricity transmission towers to carry higher voltages, boosting capacity and reduce the need to construct new overhead power lines – RICA, awarded £8.12m (National Grid Electricity Transmission).
David Smith, Chief Executive at Energy Networks Association, said: “This is innovation that will help deliver the public the low cost, Net Zero emissions energy system they need and I would like to congratulate all those projects which have been taken forward. It will help to keep Britain at the front of the pack of the international race for hydrogen, while creating even smarter and more efficient electricity networks. They will play a vital role as part of government’s ambitions for climate action and a green economic recovery, supporting jobs, growth and decarbonisation across the whole country. These ambitions will need to be continued through the new Strategic Innovation Fund in RIIO-2 and we look forward to seeing more detail from Ofgem on how this will work in practice.”