The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has released its Innovation Strategies, prioritising five areas that require advances in the electricity system to help it decarbonise and develop.
The association put the strategies – with one for electricity, one for gas and one for both – together over six months of stakeholder engagement, to identify both the key principles needed to deliver real innovation and the key themes.
Consumer vulnerability, net zero and the energy transition, optimised assets and practices, flexibility and commercial innovation, and the whole energy system were identified by the ENA as the key areas.
In particular, having a whole energy systems approach when looking at innovation is key, the group found, which led it to release the third strategy.
This is new for the ENA, and was not included in the first set of strategies produced in 2018. Talking to Current± today, the association clarified that this was due to the increasingly interconnected nature of decarbonisation, as heating and transport along with other industries turn to electrification.
It is hoped that by targeting these five themes, the ENA can encourage outcomes for these principles; customer benefit, providing opportunities for collaboration, delivering a carbon impact, using data and inputs and delivering scale and rollout.
Commenting, David Smith, chief executive of ENA, said that the role of the energy networks in decarbonisation is “set to grow” as the infrastructure increasingly takes on new responsibilities.
“We need to ensure our network infrastructure is future-ready, that our approach is transparent and accountable and that it is focused as much on local needs as it is on national ones. The five principles set out in these strategies set out just how network innovation will do that.
“These strategies provide a clear pathway for Britain’s energy innovators to be part of that. They have been drafted with that in mind, following extensive consultation with a range of different groups across Britain’s energy sector. I would like to thank those stakeholders for their input and look forward to seeing how the strategies lead to a whole host of exciting new network innovation projects as we move forward.”
Previous projects that have benefited from the ENA’s Innovation Strategies include the Social Constrain Managed Zone. This was a partnership between network companies and fuel poverty charity National Energy Action that helped communities sell flexibility services to the grid, reducing the need for network companies to build new infrastructure while creating revenue streams for communities.
Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen, who worked with the ENA to put together the strategies said that it had been a “great opportunity to help shape our critical energy infrastructure for a zero carbon future”.
“By setting out clear principles and themes, our aim is that the strategies will help organisations with new technologies and great ideas work with the networks on exciting projects that will transform our energy system.”