Posted: 8 November 2017

How to bring your innovation to life

NGET, NIC, innovation, competition, electricity, network, transmission, ideas, projects, funding, Ofgem, assets, solutions, materials, carbon, environmental, consumers

We’ve set out the challenges facing our business into four key areas: Less Visually Intrusive, Exploitation of New Materials, Asset Life Extension, Speed of Solution.


National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has opened its call for ideas for the 2018 Network Innovation Competition (NIC). Up to £70m of funding is available to support the most innovative projects. Here’s how you can get involved.

Innovation is the lifeblood of the energy industry. NGET is on the lookout for great ideas that have the potential to become our next ground-breaking low carbon innovation project. We do this through the annual NIC, which helps identify, support and deploy exciting new technologies and processes that can help transform the energy system.

Great Britain’s electricity transmission network does a vital job. It connects millions of customers and communities to the power they need. But we’re always trying to improve our network. We’re asking innovators from across industry to help us find new ways to run it faster, cheaper, greener and more flexibly than ever before.

How does the NIC work? The entry process is open now and closes on 8 December 2017. More details on how to apply can be found at the foot of this article. Once we’ve assessed all the submissions, we take the best ones forward to the 2018 NIC process.

The energy regulator, Ofgem, runs the competition and provides funding of up to £70m to encourage large-scale projects. Each project must meet the criteria – to demonstrate substantial innovation, save network customers money and have a carbon or environmental benefit.

Funding is set aside to help these projects every step of the way, from research and development through to becoming the cutting-edge technologies of tomorrow.

NIC funding at work

NIC funding is already making a tangible difference. Whichever projects are chosen, they will join a portfolio of innovations that includes the Deeside Project, the first facility in Europe where electricity assets can be tested off-grid 24/7.

Following a successful NIC submission in 2015, the Deeside Project was awarded £12m in funding. Supported by this and an extra £14m from National Grid, the project team is transforming an existing 400kV substation into an evaluation centre. It will allow us to test new technologies and processes without putting customer supplies at risk.

Where we need your help

We’ve set out the challenges facing our business to help you focus on the projects that would be most relevant. We’ve divided these challenges into four key areas where we’re looking to drive innovation.

Less visually intrusive transmission

Identifying techniques that reduce the cost of undergrounding, investigating alternative transmission media, and understanding visual concealment technologies.

Exploitation of new materials

We need to make sure the electricity transmission network is ready to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing energy landscape. To achieve this, we want to harness the latest technologies and advances in materials.


  • Exploiting new technologies and materials through our supply chain to further optimise asset design, build, and maintenance

Asset life extension

Managing Britain’s electricity infrastructure effectively means getting the most out of our existing assets as well as building new ones.


  • Improving maintenance and refurbishment practices, and developing novel asset management techniques

Speed of solution

To keep the network running smoothly, we need technological solutions that can be deployed rapidly to bring benefits to consumers as early as possible.


  • Developing technologies to allow faster deployment of assets and recovery of faults

How to apply

Here’s how to share your NIC ideas with us.

  • Download and complete a proposal form with your idea.
  • One of our subject matter experts (SMEs) will be on hand to help refine your proposal.
  • Submit your ideas to us by 8 December 2017.
  • We’ll score your submission against our guidance criteria and let you know the outcome in January 2018.
  • If it meets the criteria, we’ll develop your idea with you to produce an initial screening proposal for Ofgem to review in April 2018.
  • If your proposal shows merit but is not progressed via NIC, we will look at whether it can still be funded as an NIA project from our £5m annual

If you have any questions, require SME advice on completing a proposal, or to submit your proposal, please contact us at

We’ll also be at the LCNI Conference in Telford on 6 and 7 December so please visit our exhibition stand and discuss any ideas you may have.

Gas innovation in full flow
"NGET is on the lookout for great ideas that have the potential to become our next ground-breaking low carbon innovation project"

National Grid.