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Network companies unite to set out a future of innovation

Credit: National Grid.

Credit: National Grid.

Energy network companies have unveiled plans to join forces and develop joint network innovation strategies across gas and electricity, with the latter seeking to create new opportunities in battery storage, renewable generation and other developing technologies.

The Electricity Network Innovation Strategy will be developed under the banner of the Energy Networks Association (ENA) and will set out how network companies will provide value for money from innovation projects.

Network companies are incentivised under the current RIIO regulatory regime to undertake such projects to help create smarter energy grids, reduce carbon emissions and deliver financial benefits to customers.

However, they were put on notice recently by Ofgem to prepare for tougher price controls at the same time that consumer watchdog Citizens Advice criticised the regulator’s failures for enabling operators to pocket “unjustified” profits to the tune of £7.5 billion.

Ofgem replied with a letter stating that RIIO-2 framework would tighten these price controls, with companies now responding through the ENA with the new plans for a joint working strategy for electricity networks.

As well as facing up to questions over value for money, the strategy will show how network companies plan to share knowledge from their projects and how these will be integrated into day to day operations.

Previous works have included projects around battery storage and electric vehicle to grid (V2G) innovation and will likely continue to reflect the continuous and evolving changes within the power sector.

David Smith, chief executive of the Energy Networks Association, said: “Network companies are already using innovation projects to drive forward network performance, deliver better value for money and find new ways to harness the potential of energy technologies. These strategies will ensure that both the networks and the customers get the most out of those projects.

“But that is only one side of the network innovation coin. The other side is about how we harness the potential of energy technologies to enable new markets and provide new opportunities for consumers to have greater control of their energy bills and reduce their costs.

“Whether they are the end-user, a technology developer or a service provider, we want the widest possible range of stakeholders to have the opportunity to take part in this process.”

The companies will hold public consultations on their strategies, including events in London, Glasgow and Telford, to ensure that technology developers, policy-makers, academics and other stakeholders all have the opportunity to shape the strategies, which will then be submitted to Ofgem on the 31 March 2018.