A researcher examining his work

Electricity transmission innovation

Our commitment to innovation allows us to run, build, and maintain our network more efficiently and effectively, delivering benefits to consumers and shareholders alike. 

Electricity Transmission Innovation Strategy 2023

View our refreshed NGET Innovation Strategy. It isn’t a significant change to our current approach – we’ve been, and continue to be, focused on how we deliver the net zero transition in a fair, clean and affordable way. However, we know we can be more ambitious, clearer and more specific in our aims to enable you to work more effectively with us to drive innovation into our network.

Our refreshed strategy clearly sets out our specific engineering outcomes that we need to deliver and associated technical priorities that we need your help and innovative solutions to address, enabling us to move closer to our targets for net zero. 

Download strategy


Innovation Strategy 2023

Electricity Network Innovation Strategy

We also work together with the rest of the network licensees and we’ve jointly put together our thoughts in the latest Electricity Network Innovation Strategy 2024, which you can download below.

The Strategy has been designed to identify the most important challenges and opportunities facing Great Britain’s energy networks in supporting the delivery of the UK’s Net Zero carbon emissions targets, and delivering essential services to customers across the country. The Electricity Transmission Innovation Strategy is aligned to this.

You can also visit the Energy Networks Association (ENA) strategy pages for more information. 

Download strategy   Visit ENA strategy pages




Why innovation is so important

Decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation are transforming our energy landscape. Against this backdrop of unprecedented change in our industry, innovation has never been so important.

Innovating new technologies, processes and solutions for our transmission network are crucial to meeting the future needs of our stakeholders and making possible the energy systems of tomorrow.

Industry leaders in innovation

Through our passion for innovation and determination to deliver for our stakeholders, National Grid Electricity Transmission is leading the way in fostering new technologies and applying them to the network.

We’re driving open innovation across the industry, by developing initiatives that create the right environment to foster that innovation. An environment that encourages curiosity, is open-minded, unafraid of failure, and agile enough to match the pace of our changing energy landscape.

Working together to deliver the future 

Our work is driven by stakeholder feedback, future technological developments and business objectives. We’re constantly seeking new people and organisations who are willing to learn about our industry and help us develop our network for the future.

Innovation funding mechanisms

As part of the RIIO-2 price control, there are two funding mechanisms that facilitate innovation across the electricity industry: the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) and the Strategic Innovation Funding

Innovation Annual Summary 22/23

Energy Networks Association annual summaries

Network Innovation Competition (NIC) 2019

Your inspiration could be the next great innovation for the UK’s electricity transmission network.

Every year, we invite submissions for our Network Innovation Competition (NIC) where we map out some key themes for you to focus your ideas on.

How it works

Projects must be innovative, save money for our customers and have a carbon or environmental benefit. Project proposals go through an Initial Screening Proposal (ISP) stage. This is when Ofgem will give a go/no go decision to proceed to full project submission. Costs for development of the project are not recoverable.

The maximum lifetime funding available for projects to apply for (and receive) from the Network Innovation Competition (NIC) is £70m.

If your proposal shows merit but is not progressed through the NIC route, we’ll look at whether it can still be funded through our annual Network Innovation Allowance (NIA).

You can find out more about the competition by reading the Ofgem NIC governance document.

We’ll update this page soon with more information on our next Network Innovation Competition including entry details.

What is the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)

The purpose of the RIIO-2 NIA is to provide funding to network licensee to allow them to carry out smaller innovative projects which focus on the energy system transition and/or addressing consumer vulnerability, and which companies would not otherwise take forward as part of business as usual activities.

You can find out more about the NIA funding criteria by clicking on the link below.

Find out more

What is Strategic Innovation Funding (SIF)

For the RIIO-2 network price control, Ofgem has introduced the Strategic Innovation Fund which aims to discover and fund ambitious, big scale innovative projects with the goal to accelerate the energy system transition to net zero. These projects should help shape the future of the gas and electricity networks and deliver value to energy consumers. Ofgem will set the strategic direction by regularly publishing Innovation Challenges that define what project ideas should address to receive SIF funding.

Data sharing policy for NIA, NIC and SIF projects

Following revisions to the NIA and NIC Governance documents, which were published by OFGEM on 30 June 2017 (for NIC) and 19 March 2021 (for NIA), OFGEM has introduced a requirement for National Grid Electricity Transmission plc to make available: (i) certain network and consumption data gathered by National Grid Electricity Transmission plc in the course of a NIC-funded project; and (ii) all data gathered by National Grid Electricity Transmission plc in the course of a NIA-funded project. The SIF Governance document published on 25 August 2021 also introduces a requirement for National Grid Electricity Transmission plc to make available all data gathered or created by National Grid Electricity Transmission plc in the course of a SIF-funded project.

The purpose of this data sharing policy is to make clear how such data can be requested by interested parties and the terms on which such data will be made available by National Grid Electricity Transmission plc.
This policy applies to data arising in the course of a NIC-, NIA- or SIF-funded project that is not commercially confidential or sensitive.

In accordance with the dissemination requirements of the NIC/NIA/SIF governance framework, National Grid Electricity Transmission plc already publishes much of the data arising from our NIC/NIA/SIF projects. You may wish to check our website before making an application under this policy, in case the data that you are seeking has already been published.

National Grid NIA, NIC and SIF Data Sharing Policy - November 2021

Deeside project

Testing services – Deeside Centre for Innovation

The Deeside Centre for Innovation (DCI) is the first facility in Europe where assets associated with electricity networks can be investigated, tried and tested, prior to being rolled out on live transmission and distribution systems.

Competitions – your idea could help safeguard the future

We’re constantly looking for brilliant innovators to help us solve the challenges facing the electricity transmission network in England and Wales. Your idea could help safeguard the world around us for future generations

Innovations in the spotlight

Aerial photo of National Grid's Harker substation

Reducing grid bottlenecks with innovative software tool

We are working with Smart Wires on an innovation project to make better use of grid enhancing technologies like advanced power flow controllers, with the goal of reducing network congestion and maximising the potential of existing infrastructure.

Two engineers wearing hard hats and high-vis vests at the Richborough Connection Project

£1.3 million for National Grid to take forward three net zero innovation projec…

Three National Grid-led projects developing electricity transmission and distribution network innovations will continue their work after securing £1.3 million for the next stage of Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) programme.

Electricity pylon with overhead lands in a hilly green landscape

National Grid granted nearly £1m to fund eight net zero innovation projects

Eight National Grid-led projects exploring innovation in the electricity transmission and distribution networks have been given the green light to progress to the first ‘discovery’ phase of Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) programme.

National Grid and University of Manchester pilot drone-mounted electric field s…

National Grid and The University of Manchester are working together to develop a new drone-mountable system that will allow live inspections of overhead transmission line insulators using electric field (e-field) sensor technology.

Novel anti-leak tech helps keep substations in service during SF6 repairs

A novel technology developed through an innovation scheme is helping National Grid fix leaks of greenhouse gas SF6 while keeping its substations safely in service.

National Grid goes carbon-free with hydrogen-powered substation trial

National Grid has completed a ten-week trial to test a hydrogen-powered generator at its Deeside Centre for Innovation (DCI), a state-of-the-art testing facility hosting a 400 kV modified substation.

Satellite image of Medway pylon

Britain's energy networks look to space to help boost climate change resilience

An innovation project is harnessing space technology to help boost the resilience of energy networks against the impacts of climate change.

Teaming up with University of Manchester to develop SF6-free retrofill solution…

National Grid and the University of Manchester are to collaborate on a four-year project to develop a full-scale demonstrator at the Deeside Centre for Innovation.

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National Grid Engineer wearing PPE

Our innovation annual summary: fresh thinking for a net zero future

We’ve published our 2021/22 innovation annual summary. Our head of strategy and innovation, Nicola Todd, reflects on some of the fresh thinking and collaborations that are helping take Britain a step closer to net zero.

The age of AI: National Grid to trial futuristic automated corrosion inspection…

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) is launching trials of a system that seeks to fully automate the capture and processing of corrosion-related condition assessment data.

National Grid joins the EPRI Climate READi initiative to ensure resilient energ…

National Grid is supporting the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Climate READi framework which will enable global energy companies, climate scientists, regulators, and other stakeholders to address risks to energy networks from climate change.

Partnering with UK universities on innovation projects to help deliver net zero

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has signed innovation partnerships with six universities across the UK that will help decarbonise the electricity system in Great Britain and accelerate progress towards net zero.

Two engineers wearing PPE and carrying equipment walking at substation

National Grid call out to industry to find low-carbon alternatives to back up d…

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has launched their first ‘Call for Innovation’ to businesses across the UK to find a new low-carbon alternative to backup diesel generators.

National Grid granted £1.5m Ofgem funding for innovation projects to accelerate…

Projects include innovative uses of hydrogen in the gas national transmission system and using satellite data analytics to further increase resilience of electricity network to the impacts of climate change.

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Ofgem funding granted for three projects to accelerate network innovation towar…

NGET has been granted the Strategic Innovation Funding by Ofgem, the energy regulator, for three innovation projects that will accelerate Great Britain's progress towards delivering a net zero energy network at the lowest cost to consumers.

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Testing two new carbon cutting approaches at Deeside Centre for Innovation

DCI is planning to open its doors to become the first test centre in Europe where electricity network innovations can be investigated, tried and tested to voltages of up to 600kV in a safe substation environment.

National Grid and Digital Catapult partner to explore 5G benefits to deliver ne…

National Grid has partnered with Digital Catapult to deliver the UK’s first feasibility report to assess the opportunity for adoption of 5G within the Electricity & Gas Transmission networks.

National Grid partner with Met Office to boost capacity on the electricity tran…

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has partnered with the Met Office on an innovative weather data project to help expand capacity on the electricity transmission network for wind and solar power.