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chapter 10

Be Innovative

The whole electricity system is becoming more integrated and other sectors are becoming ever more dependent on energy (e.g. transport) as they drive towards net-zero emissions. 

Innovation in NGET covers everything from everyday continuous improvement through to step change technological breakthroughs and brings added value to our long-term ambition.

What this stakeholder priority is about

The need to transition to clean energy, and drive down current and future consumer costs are driving rapid changes in our energy system.

Everything we do is for our customers, stakeholders and ultimately the end consumer. They are telling us they want us to be innovative, and deliver an affordable network that is safe, reliable and resilient, and play a role in decarbonising the UK economy. We can make a real, meaningful difference, leading the way to a safe and sustainable future.

Our Innovation Strategy has been developed with our stakeholders, resulting in the following focus areas:

  • Delivering Cleaner Energy
  • Delivering Cheaper Energy


What you can find in this chapter

  1. What this stakeholder priority is about
  2. Track record and implications for T2
  3. What our stakeholders are telling us
  4. Our proposals for the T2 period
  5. The justification for our proposals
  6. Our proposed costs for the T2 period
  7. How we will manage risk and uncertainty


What you have told us so far

We've asked our stakeholders what is important to you. You've told us that we should innovate more on decarbonisation, as well as providing a reliable energy system and lower energy bills. We've changed our plans to increase our focus on decarbonisation.

You want us to invest in innovative ways of delivering this which creates benefits both now and in the future. You've told us that we are not accessible enough, we need to be more open and transparent.

You want us to share our innovation challenges earlier, and encourage more Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to be involved.

We'll do this through BAU Innovation, Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) and Strategic Funding Innovation Pot (SFIP).

Business Plan Chapter
Engagement Log

End to end description of stakeholder engagement and how it has influenced our plan

Engagement log

Business Plan Annexes

Innovation T1 Performance
Detail of our innovation spend and outputs delivered in T1 compared to our allowances

ENA Benefits Reporting Framework - Delivery Plan
The joint piece of work carried out by energy networks to have an innovation benefits report framework which is common across all networks.

Innovation charter

Board charter for how we will develop the business to be more innovative

Summary of Outputs

BAU Innovation 

Key areas

Description

Commitments 

Embedding a culture of innovationImproving our ‘innovation culture’ throughout the organisation

Board level commitment to embed innovation into our BAU culture

Use IDEO cultural survey to improve purpose, experimentation, collaboration, empowerment, looking out and refinement

Adopting National Grid Partners ‘centre of excellence’ which establishes a shared understanding of the value innovation can bring, ensures consistent execution, tracking & enhances collaboration

Rolling out proven T2 innovationCreating new innovation projects which deliver benefits within the period and rolling out the benefits

Deliver technical innovation in OHLs, SGTs, Protection & Control, Cyber Security, Cables, Power Electronics & Network Management

Improving collaboration & attracting 3rd partiesBeing open and accessible, and attracting a wider set of external stakeholders and 3rd parties, including SMEs and other industries

Hold annual conferences with other electricity networks to disseminate learning from innovation activities

Share specific learning through presentation at other network conferences and events

Create new data sets from our wider stakeholder set

Stakeholders will experience a consistent approach

Develop a portal for our innovation website where 3rd parties can submit idea

Hold joint ‘whole system’ gas & elec calls for proposals and run yearly challenges on NIA propositions

Monitoring progress and outcomesDeveloping a joint monitoring framework across the industry for a common method of measuring  the progress and benefits of innovation activitiesWork with other network companies and the ENA to deliver a joint monitoring framework, which is publically available (see annex on Benefits Framework)
Being more transparentSharing our work, benefits and progress externally

Be consistent in our approach

Striking the balance between open source data and the security of our network

Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)

Commitments

T2 Baseline (£m)

Consumer benefits

Investigate alternatives to SF6 which can be retro-fitted, avoiding the need for more costly asset replacement

Identify methods for reducing or eliminating cement requirements

Implement solutions with novel materials with a lower carbon footprint and which also help with the reduction of visual and environmental impacts

Create enhanced methods of measuring SF6 leakage

8
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions
  • Lower costs associated with the management of SF6
  • Quicker availability of lower carbon products within the supply chain
  • Delivers our commitment to the energy transition

We will collaborate with other network companies and expand the facility in the T2 period, allowing the facility to be truly whole system and not just for electricity

Include a facility to trial gas (hydrogen and liquefied natural gas) integration, electric transport technologies, and zero-carbon generation technologies

Open up the facility to SMEs

We will be transparent about the activities at Deeside, to allow all parties to share and collaborate regardless of fuel or network

30
  • Faster implementation of newer low-carbon technologies
  • Reduced costs through quicker and safer ‘off-line’ testing and commissioning

Lead the way to a low carbon future by implementing the government’s Clean Growth Strategy

Facilitate electricity network’s role in the transition to electric vehicles

Actively explore opportunities to support and work with other industries (transport, steel, cement) to identify and implement decarbonisation activities

Explore the appetite of other industries to move toward a hydrogen economy and the implications for transmission networks

Support industry in the development of technology and systems to help them participate in the future energy market

13
  • Overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions across other industries supporting the UK to achieve its emission targets
  • Greater flexibility in charging points for electric vehicles
  • Greener options available for heating in the home, transport, products and services

Investigate tools and techniques to allow the digitisation of maintenance, monitoring, and testing of equipment with automated archiving and analysis of information

Research and investigate algorithms for the mixture of data with various levels of accuracies and time-frames

Investigate risk in real-time to maximise asset performance and value

Investigate the potential of artificial intelligence, robotics and research sensors

Explore how artificial intelligence can be applied to our asset, financial and other data sets

Share data across the whole energy system (heat, transport, energy)

22.5
  • Reduced whole system costs through the ability to collaborate with a common data platform
  • Reduced costs through improved real-time asset information allowing more informed risk based decisions
  • Improved analytics and intelligence in business support systems will provide information to allow lower cost decisions
  • Improved collaboration and sharing of data will create a more agile system, allowing cleaner technologies to access the system quicker

Produce offline tools to replicate our live network, allowing us to respond to customers more quickly

Create new assets and installation methods that can be quickly deployed and moved around the UK to support the fast connection of customers

7.1
  • Lower costs through improved optimisation of network operations
  • Quicker connection of renewable generation
  • Improved customer experience

Collaborate with parties closer to consumers (suppliers, DNOs, supply chain)

Explore our role in this area with stakeholders (leadership or supporting)

Collaborate with SMEs to develop further understanding in this area of how we can support vulnerable consumers

2.2
  • Ensuring vulnerable consumers are not ‘left behind’ in the transition to cleaner energy
  • Focussing our strategy to deliver cheaper energy to vulnerable consumers
  • Employment and education opportunities
Lead research into new safety technology for the whole energy industry1.2
  • Improved safety for the public and for our staff

 Strategic Funding Innovation Pot (SFIP)

The SFIP replaces the the Network Innovation Competition (NIC) which was successfully utilised to progress the initial stages of our Deeside Centre for innovation. There have been no funding proposals set out yet by Ofgem, we therefore propose that this pot is focussed on the following areas:

  1. Enabling the transition to net zero by 2050. Additional stimulus funds in this area will allow us to meet our commitments set out in our business plan on net zero.
  2. Finding solutions to nationally significant challenges such as the future of transport, heat and network resilience.
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