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ENA kicks off £70 million hunt for electricity network innovations

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Up to £70 million in new funding for innovative energy tech firms is up for grabs after network operators and the Energy Networks Association launched its Call for Ideas under the Network Innovation Competition (NIC).

The NIC, run by industry regulator Ofgem, will see applicant companies collaborate with distribution network operators (DNOs) to develop joint bids for £70 million pot of funding for electricity network projects.

A further £20 million pot has been made available for gas network projects, however cross-vector bids – taking aim at the whole system – could potentially access both pots of funding, the ENA said.

The NIC is an annual competition borne from the networks’ intent to bring forward new technologies which hold the potential to reduce operating costs and translate them into business as usual activities.

Projects must deliver a clear cost benefit to the public, reduce the overall cost of running energy networks, provide environmental benefits and demonstrate genuine innovation. Priority areas will also need to be met, as outlined in the Gas and Electricity Network Innovation Strategies.

These priorities include planning and forecasting, pricing and settlement, network resilience, communications and data management, decarbonisation of heat, energy flexibility, community energy and vulnerable customers.

Previous winners of the NIC includes the OpenLV project, which has enabled greater access to local network electricity demand data.

The ENA has today (16 September 2019) opened the Call for Ideas, which closes on 8 November 2019.

David Smith, chief executive at the ENA, said the energy sector needs to be “relentless” in its focus on innovation to deliver progress towards the country’s now binding net zero target.

“Private enterprise is key to delivering network innovation which is vital to help keep energy bills down for the public, while delivering a smarter, cleaner and more flexible energy system that serves the country. This is an exciting chance for innovators to deliver projects that will make a real difference to the way networks operate in communities up and down the country. We want to hear from the widest range of energy innovators as possible to help deliver that,” he said.

More details on the Call for Ideas and how to enter can be found on the ENA’s NIC portal.

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