Posted: 7 October 2016
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Calling all innovators

The Electricity Transmission (ET) and Gas Transmission (GT) teams at National Grid are launching their latest search for innovative ideas that have the power to transform the electricity and gas networks.

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Calling all innovators

Calling all innovators

Deeside is one NIC project that has benefited from a partnership approach to innovation.

We’re keen to hear from current project partners and other potential innovators who have fresh ideas that dovetail with ET and GT’s current strategic priorities.

National Grid.


The closing date for ET proposals is Friday, 11 November. For GT, it’s Friday, 23 December.

Source: National Grid.

In preparation for Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition (NIC), we’re keen to hear from current project partners and other potential innovators who have fresh ideas that dovetail with ET and GT’s current strategic priorities – see the summary below.

With a pressing need for change across the energy industry, the annual NIC competition stimulates innovation by funding electricity and gas network companies to develop new technologies, operational and business solutions.

Funding is awarded to the projects which show the strongest potential to help all network operators deliver environmental benefits, cut costs and secure supply as Britain moves to a low-carbon economy.

The teams are inviting well thought-out proposals and the process for submitting them can be found here. If you have any questions you’d like to ask the teams, don’t hesitate to get in touch. And, if you’re at the LCNI Conference in Manchester next week, please come along and visit us at our ET and GT stands.

The closing date for ET proposals is Friday, 11 November. For GT, it’s Friday, 23 December.

Electricity Transmission is interested in innovative ideas that relate to the following areas:

Less visually intrusive transmission: reducing the cost of laying underground lines, investigating new methods of transmission and understanding technologies for visual concealment.

Exploitation of new materials: improving the design, build and maintenance of assets by exploiting new technologies and materials through the supply chain.

Asset life extension: improving maintenance and refurbishment of assets and developing new techniques for managing them.

Speed of solution: developing technologies that get new assets deployed faster and faults resolved quicker.

Demand: improving the forecasting and modelling of electricity demand and delivering new ways for energy users to contribute to the secure and efficient operation of the network.

Operating with non-synchronous generationfinding fresh ways to operate a network with higher levels of more renewable, non-synchronous generation and the resulting impact that this has on the system.

Distributed generation: finding ways to model and forecast distributed generation, and developing ways of operating a network which features very high levels of it.

Smart grids: developing smart solutions to transmission challenges, measuring their value and demonstrating how they can be used to provide new services and increase capacity.

Risk management: To gain a better understanding of complex risks, such as demand, transmission and human error in our evolving role as Great Britain System Operator (GBSO).


Does your idea dovetail with Gas Transmission’s current strategic priorities?

Asset management: developing smarter methods and data for optimising the management of assets, new techniques and materials for repairing and replacing assets, and flexible and mobile solutions for compressor stations.

Future of the National Transmission System (NTS): finding innovative ways to operate a more distributed gas system, designing a future gas transmission network and supporting the contribution of unconventional gas sources.

Safety and environmental impact: Working towards zero emissions, reducing third-party interference and improving physical security, cyber security and network resilience.


Brighter future: how current NIC projects are progressing

ET and GT each has two NIC projects up and running. And they’re making solid progress towards delivering big benefits to National Grid’s customers, stakeholders and the wider industry.


Project in brief: Aims to transform an existing 400kV electricity substation into a test centre, where electricity-related innovation projects can be easily trialled in a live environment.

What are the benefits? New ideas will be tested and deployed faster, with anticipated overall cost reductions of re-engineering the network and reducing outages, and therefore reducing disruption to customers’ electricity supplies.

Latest milestones: Architect plans are nearing approval, which will allow for tendering on the groundworks to begin along with the first stage of construction. This will see an external covered storage space being built. The innovation technical design document, an important part of design preparation, is at the first draft stage and is under review.

What’s next? Test equipment for the substation will start to be purchased very soon and work will begin to clear the ground ready to start construction early next year. You can see the latest project designs on the dedicated Deeside hub. The website will be updated once the final designs are approved. Look out for updates, along with a second progress report, before Christmas.

Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC)

Project in brief: Aims to investigate how newer technologies, such as wind farms, solar PV and demand-side response (DSR), can help maintain system frequency in a low-carbon system.

What are the benefits? By bringing new generation technologies into the frequency control market, we’ll reduce risk on the system and save money for customers and stakeholders.


EFCC is investigating newer technologies, such as wind farms, solar PV and demand-side response (DSR).

Latest milestones: A monitoring and control system (MCS) has been developed to reduce delays in conventional frequency response and take advantage of the potential of renewable technologies. An optimisation algorithm – or set of rules – has been created to organise response options in the best way. The project has also been assessing the response potential of different providers. Among the highlights has been project partner Centrica’s successful simulation of faster response on its Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGTs).

What’s coming next? Software is set to be added to the control system and project partners will then be trained to use and test it. Once that’s completed, National Grid will start to demonstrate how a new era of rapid frequency control can work in the real world.

GT’s NIC projects are Customer Low Cost Connections (CLoCC), where we’re minimising the time and cost involved for gas producers to connect to the NTS and Gas Robotic Agile Inspection Device (GRAID), which can determine the asset condition of below-ground pipework at high-pressure gas installations. To find out the latest on these, visit the dedicated CLoCC and GRAID microsites.

Gas innovation in full flow