Building an innovative future for energy networks - 2018 LCNI conference

National Grid proudly supported the Low Carbon Networks and Innovation event by sharing new research, its innovation strategy and finding new collaborators to work with. 

Tackling the transition to the future energy landscape requires strong collaboration as explained by Christine Gunter, National Grid Regulatory Innovation Manager:

LCNI provides a fantastic opportunity to talk to the industry about our research strategy, the work we have undertaken in the past year, and finding new collaborators to help us deliver the future energy transition which our stakeholders expect. 

The annual conference is an opportunity for experts across the energy industry to showcase and discuss innovations being developed to deliver a low carbon energy future. Explaining why National Grid’s Electricity Transmission business hosted a stand at the annual event Christine Gunter, points out that, “Many of the conversations were about the big changes we are seeing in the electricity transmission network and how National Grid is shaping innovation to meet those changes. There isn’t just one approach, of course, which is why events like LCNI, where we meet with colleagues from across the energy industry, are so important. That’s why it was good to be able to talk about the broad approach we are taking to finding innovative solutions and how important it is to invite others to collaborate on projects.”

Hosting a stand at the event, held on 16 and 17 October, members of the National Grid Electricity Transmission Innovation Team spoke with people from across the energy industry about resilience of the network and innovation projects.

Neil Carter, National Grid Strategy Manager, explained that Electricity Transmission is shaping future policies and developing strategies to manage resilience with support from others because society's reliance on low-carbon electricity becomes even more embedded within our everyday lives.  Neil said, “This is a topic that the whole industry is currently focussed on. In fact, the Energy Research Partnership (ERP), of which NGET is a member, is about to launch a significant report on the topic.  Many of the views expressed by NGET are echoed by the industry which sees the need to prepare for a resilient future.”

Electricity Transmission innovation projects had a number of projects on display, including the Deeside facility and the textured insulators developed with research and manufacturing partners. Delegates were able to use an interactive app to explore and learn about different areas of the Deeside facility.

Deeside, the first of its kind in Europe, offers a controlled test environment where valuable monitoring data can be collected under on-grid conditions, without the need to take them on to the actual transmission network. The display generated significant interest amongst potential users of the facility according to Amrit Sehmbi, Senior Innovation Engineer, who said: "There was a lot of discussion about the various ways Deeside is going to enable companies to trial and implement technologies into business-as-usual much quicker and at lower cost than previous laboratory-only facilities.”

Oliver Cwikowski, Innovation Engineer, explained how attending LCNI gave him an opportunity to talk through the research being done on textured insulators, including the manufacturing process. “The increased complexity of the material and surface means that manufacturing can be difficult. So, it was good to have our samples from the manufacturer, to put on the stand. The first insulators ready for use on the transmission system should be available by the middle of 2020.”

Summing up the event, Christine referenced David Wright, Director of Electricity Transmission’s recent Innovation podcast interview, “As David said, working with customers and stakeholders is critical to shaping the future transmission network. Events like the LCNI are perfect for doing that.”

“Even though LCNI is over for this year, we still want to hear from any researchers or businesses that want to discuss potential innovation projects. Our Network Innovation Competition (NIC) call for proposals is still open, so please get in touch. Who knows, next year we might be featuring one of those new collaborations.”

You can find out more about the work the Electricity Transmission Innovation team is undertaking in the 'Imagining tomorrow' section of the National Grid Electricity Transmission website.