SP Energy Networks has been given the green light to progress with £1.2m worth of projects to help tackle some of the UK’s biggest and most complex network challenges.
Nine projects will now move into an early trial phase where their solutions to help move the country towards achieving its net zero emissions targets will be assessed.
The network provider’s proposals are funded by network users and consumers under the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), an Ofgem programme managed in partnership with Innovate UK.
The two agencies launched the SIF initiative last year in quest of technical innovations to accelerate the transition to net zero across the electricity and gas sectors.
As a DNO and TSP, SP Energy Networks serves 6 million customers in 3.5 million homes and businesses, from central & southern Scotland, down through Merseyside and into Mid-Wales.
Its projects are focused on decarbonisation of heat, and exploring the use of hydrogen and electrification in rail travel.
Reducing volumes of industrial and heavy electrical end-of-life equipment sent to landfill is another priority. So too are distributed energy resources – battery storage, solar PV arrays and wind farms. Enhancing the stability of the electricity network is the overall goal.
Graham Campbell, the DNO’s processes and technology director, said: “This significant investment from the Strategic Innovation Fund shows the critical role innovation plays in us achieving Net Zero.
The nine projects cap SP’s engagement last year with partners including academics, industry experts, solutions providers and product delivery partners. “We’re committed to working with parties of all sizes in the wider SIF portfolio, continuing to give opportunity to SMEs”, added Campbell.
Currently in its ‘Discovery’ phase for each project, the Strategic Innovation Fund will from May subject them to its ‘Alpha’ phase. From that point they will test the feasibility solutions previously identified, and begin build a consortium of delivery partners and funders. The final ‘Beta’ stage will see the solution demonstrated.
Network Rail is one partner for SP Energy Networks’ SIF projects. Alan Ross, its director of engineering and asset management in Scotland, said: “Our commitment to a low carbon society is set-out in our Environmental Sustainability Strategy, with a crucial aspect being a holistic and collaborative approach. We are delighted to see the initial success and look forward to accelerating our transition, working together with SP Energy Networks under the Strategic Innovation Fund.”
SP Energy Networks owns and manages over 110,000 kilometres of overhead and underground powerlines and 30,000 substations. It is investing approximately £7 billion in its network.