Electricity Network Innovation Competition (NIC)

The Electricity Network Innovation Competition (NIC) was an annual opportunity for electricity network companies to compete for funding for the development and demonstration of new technologies, operating and commercial arrangements. 

We allowed for up to £70 million of funding per year for innovative projects which help all network operators understand how to provide environmental benefits, reduce costs, and maintain security of supply as Great Britain (GB) moves to a low carbon economy. 

We awarded funding to the following companies:

  • Western Power Distribution (WPD)
  • Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN)
  • UK Power Networks (UKPN)
  • Electricity North West (ENWL)
  • National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET)

We will close the Electricity NIC to new proposals with the ending of the RIIO-ED1 price control in March 2023. The RIIO-ED2 price control, which applies from April 2023, includes a new mechanism called the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).

The 2021 Competition

The Initial Screening Process for the 2021 NIC has now concluded.

The following projects have passed the ISP and will proceed to the Full Submission stage.

The Full Submission deadline is Friday 13 August 2021.

  • BiTraDER (Electricity North West) - The Project aims to investigate the potential for a merit order stack trading market between DERs.
  • Smarter Heat (Electricity North West) - The Project aims to understand whether ‘connect and manage’ an appropriate approach to heat pumps, as with EV/solar, and understanding behavioural impacts to inform management of heat demand.
  • Community DSO (Northern PowerGrid) - The Project aims to trial Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) with localised management of lower voltage levels, organised in interconnected ‘cells’.
  • EQUINOX (Western Power Distribution) - The Project aims to trial three commercial arrangements with customers to procure flexibility from low carbon heat, namely heat pumps.

The following submissions to the ISP will not be invited to proceed to the Full Submission stage.

  • ReFlex (Western Power Distribution) - The Project aims to develop a reactive power flexibility market for integration with existing flexibility market platforms
  • REALISE (Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution) - The Project aims to develop an Intelligent Control System as part of future control room architecture that is up to specification for increasingly complicated network management.

You can see all publications relating to the Electricity NIC and its qualifying projects in the list below.

Publications and updates