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: 17th Feb 2017
  • Guidance
  • 2 Associated documents
Further guidance to Electricity Distribution licensees intending to make submissions to the Innovation Roll-out Mechanism under the RIIO-ED1 price control.

  • Published: 21st Dec 2016
  • Closed: 6th Feb 2017
  • Consultations & responses
  • 9 Associated documents
This consultation document is seeking stakeholders’ views on proposed legal text that would give effect to the policy proposals currently being consulted on.

  • Published: 1st Dec 2016
  • Closed: 6th Feb 2017
  • Consultations & responses
  • 3 Associated documents
This consultation document is seeking stakeholders’ views on changes we are proposing to the Network Innovation Allowance and the Networks Innovation Competitions.

  • Published: 28th Apr 2016
  • Reports & plans
  • 1 Associated documents
This report summarises the key learning delivered to date by the Low Carbon Network Fund projects and identifies the extent to which the DNOs have incorporated the learning into their business as usual arrangements.

  • Published: 4th Apr 2016
  • Decisions
  • 1 Associated documents
Update on our review of the Low Carbon Networks Fund and the governance arrangements of the Network Innovation Competitions and Network Innovation Allowance.

  • Published: 17th Dec 2015
  • Closed: 5th Feb 2016
  • Consultations & responses
  • 28 Associated documents
We want your views on the governance of some of our innovation funding schemes for energy network companies and the funding that should be available in the electricity Network Innovation Competition for the remainder of the RIIO-ED1 price control.

  • Published: 18th Sep 2015
  • Decisions
  • 2 Associated documents
Letter approving network licensees’ Network Innovation Allowance Project Benefits Guide.

  • Published: 28th Apr 2015
  • Decisions
  • 1 Associated documents
Letter setting out our decision on guidance we will issue to licensees intending to make submissions to the Innovation Roll-out Mechanism.

  • Published: 26th Jan 2015
  • Decisions
  • 1 Associated documents
This letter explains the Authority’s decision regarding changes to the Network Innovation Competition and Network Innovation Allowance Governance Documents.

  • Published: 7th Jan 2015
  • Closed: 4th Mar 2015
  • Consultations & responses
  • 3 Associated documents
This letter seeks views on how the Authority should consider applications for Innovation Roll-out Mechanism funding.