Ofgem announces 2014 Innovation Competitions’ shortlist

Publication date
14th May 2014
Information type
Policy area

Ofgem has shortlisted 11 projects which have passed the Initial Screening Process (ISP) for this year’s Innovation Competitions.

Innovation funding is available to network companies through the Electricity Network Innovation Competition (Electricity NIC), the Gas NIC and the Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund. These competitions provide essential backing to innovative projects which aim to make the energy networks smarter, accelerate the development of a low carbon energy sector as well as deliver environmental benefits and lower future costs to consumers.

The projects that have passed the ISP are now eligible to progress to the full submission stage. Network companies must submit their fully developed proposals to Ofgem by 25 July 2014. An expert panel will evaluate the full submission proposals against detailed criteria and make a recommendation to Ofgem on which projects should receive funding. Ofgem will decide which projects to fund by the end of November 2014.

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Notes to editors

1. The Competitions

As part of the RIIO-T1 and RIIO-GD1 price controls, Ofgem introduced two annual Network Innovation Competitions (NICs) - one for electricity transmission companies (Electricity NIC) and one for gas network companies (Gas NIC).

This year, Ofgem is also running the final year of the LCN Fund which is part of the current electricity distribution price control arrangements. From next year the LCN Fund will not exist but electricity distribution companies will be able to apply to the Electricity NIC. For the final year of the LCN Fund, as in other years, up to £64m may be awarded.

The Electricity NIC will run annually from April 2013 until March 2021. This year the available funding for the Electricity NIC is £27m. For 2015-16 and 2016-17 £90m will be available each year to fund projects proposed by electricity transmission and distribution licensees. We will set the NIC funding for 2017-18 onwards based on a review of value for money from completed LCN Fund projects. This revised amount, which could be profiled, will be at least £27m (the amount set in RIIO-T1).

The Gas NIC will also run annually from April 2013 until March 2021 and a maximum of £18m will be available each year for the purposes of the competition.

2. The projects

This table lists the projects which have passed the ISP:

Competition Licensee Project Title
LCN Fund UK Power Networks Kent Active System Management (KASM)
LCN Fund SSE Power Distribution Low Energy Automated Networks (LEAN)
LCN Fund Electricity North West Fault Level Active Response (FLARE)
LCN Fund Western Power Distribution Equilibrium
Electricity NIC SHE Transmission Modular Approach to Substation Construction (MASC)
Electricity NIC SHE Transmission New Suite of Transmission Structures (NeSTS)
Electricity NIC TC Ormonde OFTO Offshore Cable Repair Vessel and Universal Joint
Electricity NIC NGET Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC)
Electricity NIC NGET South East Smart Grid (SESG)
Gas NIC National Grid Gas Transmission In-Line Robotic Inspection of High Pressure Installations
Gas NIC Northern Gas Networks Optimising the transportation of shale and other unconventional gases in the UK.

3. The Initial Screening Process

Proposed projects must pass the ISP to be eligible to enter the innovation competitions. In order to pass the ISP, a project must meet the eligibility requirements. We assess whether the submissions demonstrate that they meet these requirements.

These eligibility requirements state that a NIC project must have the potential to have a direct impact on a network company’s network or the operations of the GB system operator and involve the development or demonstration of at least one of four specific requirements. In addition to meeting one or more of the requirements, in order to pass ISP, a network company must also demonstrate that the project meets all of the ISP criteria. The specific requirements and the ISP criteria are detailed in the Governance documents for each of the competitions (LCN Fund, Electricity NIC, and Gas NIC).

4. About the expert panel

The Expert Panels will review submissions made to the innovation competitions and make a recommendation on the projects which should receive funding. The Expert Panel members bring knowledge and expertise covering energy network industries, consumer interests, environmental policy, technical and engineering issues, and economics and finance. The panels are as follows:

Electricity NIC Expert Panel Gas NIC Expert Panel LCN Fund Expert Panel
Dr Robin Bidwell (Chair) Miriam Greenwood (Chair) Dr Robin Bidwell (Chair)
Sharon Darcy Sharon Darcy Sharon Darcy
Prof. David Newbery Prof. David Newbery Prof. David Newbery
Alan Bryce Sean Sutcliffe Sean Sutcliffe
Prof. Nick Jenkins Ron Chapman Prof. Nick Jenkins

5. About Ofgem

Ofgem is the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets, which supports the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, the regulator of the gas and electricity industries in Great Britain. The Authority's functions are set out mainly in the Gas Act 1986, the Electricity Act 1989, the Competition Act 1998 and the Utilities Act 2000. In this note, the functions of the Authority under all the relevant Acts are, for simplicity, described as the functions of Ofgem.

6. For further press information contact:

Lisa O’Brien:          020 7901 7426   

Dafydd Wyn: 020 3263 9943

Felicity Beverley: 020 7901 3858

Out of hours media contact number:  07766 511470