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UKPN unveils updated innovation strategy, identifying net zero readiness as a key area

Image: UKPN.

Image: UKPN.

UK Power Networks (UKPN) has unveiled its updated innovation strategy, targeting three innovation pillars.

The DNO pointed to the 71 innovation projects launched in ED1 and the £45 million invested into innovation during RIIO-ED1.

Its updated strategy aims to increase the visibility of its focus and processes, allowing it to expand collaboration efforts with its innovation stakeholders and partners.

This strategy demonstrates that UKPN is exploring levers at all stages, from continuous improvement to making its network more efficient and effective, to "revolutionary" change in the service it delivers to customers, it said.

This is in addition to trialing and rolling out new smart solutions that enable greater flexibility and resilience.

UKPN's three innovation pillars are: Efficient and Effective, Net Zero Ready and Future Ready.

The challenges looking to be addressed in Efficient and Effective include:

  • Maintaining security and quality of supply.
  • Delivering RIIO outputs at the lowest cost, including optimising asset and network performance for enhanced interoperability and control, as well as improved safety.
  • Visibility and coordination of data, including utilizing data efficiently, developing appropriate systems and processes to maximise its value, and providing data to facilitate market based solutions.

Under the Net Zero Ready pillar, UKPN is seeking to address a number of challenges. These include enabling broader net zero targets by facilitating the connection of low carbon technologies, including electric transport, at the lowest cost to consumers, as well as reducing the cost and time to connect the LCTs.

Other challenges include playing an active role in the decarbonisation of heat and reducing its own carbon footprint.

The third pillar, Future Ready, includes the provision of services for distributed energy resources, whole system optimisation and transmission and distribution interface and greater collaboration.

Following stakeholder feedback in 2017, UKPN has renewed its 'innovation idea capture process' and improved the way it shares the challenges it is facing with SMEs, the number of contact points and the way it manages its relationships.

Its projects are packaged into three time horizons: immediate term, business as usual funded innovation delivering benefits in the short term, medium term readiness to deploy following project completion and long term R&D to test, learn and adapt research solutions into deployable ready benefits.

In the foreword to the strategy, Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UKPN, wrote that innovation provides the flexibility to “respond better, faster, or more cost-effectively to the changing requirements” of UKPN’s customers.

“Our refreshed Innovation Strategy comes at a time when the opportunities and the challenges facing electricity distribution have never been greater,” he wrote.

The strategy also pointed to various projects undertaken by UKPN, including the smart charging trial Shift.

It also highlights its flagship project in collaboration with National Grid ESO, Power Potential.

The project is implementing a Distributed Energy Resources Management System to enable generation connected to its network in the South East to offer their services and access a new revenue stream by providing active and reactive power services to transmission.

As part of the project, Lightsource BP claimed a UK-first by providing reactive power services to National Grid ESO during nighttime hours, using power generated by a solar farm.


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