Network innovation

Britain's energy mix is changing and the way our gas and electricity networks operate needs to change too. We provide essential backing to innovative projects which aim to help make the energy networks smarter, and accelerate the development of a low carbon energy sector and delivering financial benefits to consumers. The projects help develop crucial knowledge and expertise which is being shared across the industry.

Innovation Stimulus

As part of the RIIO price controls we introduced a Network Innovation Stimulus. The Stimulus includes two annual Network Innovation Competitions (NICs): one for electricity network companies and one for gas network companies.

The Network Innovation Competitions

Through the NICs network companies compete for funding for the research, development and demonstration of new technologies, operating and commercial arrangements. Funding is provided for those innovation projects which meet our evaluation criteria – which are available on our website.  We are supported in our review and assessment of the projects by an independent expert panel for each competition.

As part of the electricity distribution price control arrangements (1 April 2010 to 31 March 2015), we established the Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund. The LCN Fund allowed up to £500m of funding to support projects sponsored by the distribution network operators (DNOs).  The projects trial new technology, operating and commercial arrangements. The Electricity NIC has replaced the LCN Fund.

The objective of the NICs and the LCN Fund is to help network companies understand what they need to do to provide security of supply at value for money as Great Britain moves to a low carbon economy.

Innovation Working Group

We held a meeting of the IWG to discuss running the 2014 network innovation competitions on 19 February 2014. We will announce the dates of any future meetings on this page.

For further information please contact

Innovation competitions

To access detailed information on the LCN Fund, alongside the Gas NIC and Electricity NIC, please see:

Electricity Network Innovation Competition

Gas Network Innovation Competition

Low Carbon Networks Fund

Publications and updates

  • Published: 7th Jun 2019
  • Closed: 5th Jul 2019
  • Consultations and responses
  • 2 Associated documents
This letter seeks stakeholders’ views on an application from Electricity North West Limited (ENWL) for a Relevant Adjustment under the Innovation Roll-out Mechanism (IRM) of £15.09m (2012/2013 prices).

  • Published: 19th Jul 2018
  • Decisions
  • 1 Associated documents
Changes to Western Power Distribution’s licences and corresponding Price Control Financial Handbook.

  • Published: 1st Jun 2018
  • Closed: 29th Jun 2018
  • Consultations and responses
  • 4 Associated documents
Proposed changes to WPD’s licences and corresponding Price Control Financial Handbook for the recovery of diversions costs associated with rail electrification.

  • Published: 1st Dec 2017
  • Closed: 2nd Feb 2018
  • Consultations and responses
  • 3 Associated documents
Consultation on a potential RIIO-ED1 Mid-Period Review for RIIO-ED1

  • Published: 17th Oct 2017
  • Decisions
  • 10 Associated documents
Decision on the applications received to the first Innovation Roll-out Mechanism window in RIIO-ED1 that opened in May 2017

  • Published: 26th Sep 2017
  • Open letters and correspondence
  • 0 Associated documents
Update to stakeholders that we will publish our decision on applications to the first window of the RIIO-ED1 Innovation Roll-out Mechanism in October 2017.

  • Published: 18th Jul 2017
  • Decisions
  • 3 Associated documents
This notice explains our decision on proposed changes to version 3.0 of the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) Governance Document.

  • Published: 18th Jul 2017
  • Decisions
  • 7 Associated documents
Modification of network licences to curtail the recovery of Bid Preparation Costs by RIIO network licensees after 1 April 2018 from the NIA.

  • Published: 30th Jun 2017
  • Decisions
  • 3 Associated documents
This notice explains our decision on proposed changes to version 3.0 of the Network Innovation Competition (NIC) Governance Document.

  • Published: 27th Jun 2017
  • Closed: 25th Jul 2017
  • Consultations and responses
  • 7 Associated documents
Consultation on Innovation Roll-out Mechanism submissions from SP Energy Networks and UK Power Networks to fund new technologies.