Posted: 5 October 2017
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NGGT NIC 2018: everything you need to know

National Grid Gas Transmission (NGGT) has launched its call for ideas for the 2018 Network Innovation Competition (NIC). With up to £20m of funding available, Innovation Governance Manager Tom Neal explains how existing partners – and new innovators – can get involved.

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NGGT NIC 2018: everything you need to know

NGGT NIC 2018: everything you need to know

National Grid Gas Transmission is looking for ideas to transform the future of gas. Submit them before 30 November.

"We’re asking innovators across the industry to share their ideas with us"

Tom Neal, Innovation Governance Manager.


The competition is operated by the regulator, Ofgem, and it makes up to £20m of funding available to inspire large-scale and industry innovations across the gas industry.

Source: National Grid.

Here in NGGT, we’re looking for potential partners to help us find our next flagship low carbon innovation project. We’re asking innovators across the industry to share their ideas with us on how we can operate and maintain the gas transmission network faster, cheaper, greener and more flexibly than ever before.

After internal review, we’ll choose the best idea or ideas to take forward for the 2018 Network Innovation Competition (NIC) process. The competition is operated by the regulator, Ofgem, and it makes up to £20m of funding available to inspire large-scale and industry innovations across the gas industry.

Tom Neal, Innovation Governance Manager .

Successful projects are awarded the funding they need to research, develop and demonstrate the smartest new ideas and technologies of tomorrow.

Any proposals leading to a successful bid would join our cutting-edge NIC innovation portfolio alongside projects GRAID and CLoCC.

GRAID – or Gas Robotic Agile Inspection Device – is our £6.3m project to develop a new robotic platform for analysing the condition of previously unreachable sections of the gas network. CLoCC – or Customer Low Cost Connections – is worth £5.4m and will minimise the time and cost involved for smaller and non-traditional gas customers to connect to the gas transmission network.

So we need your ideas – and we need them by 30 November. Whatever their theme, it’s important they have the potential to bring significant financial and environmental benefits to the UK’s energy consumers.

To help focus your ideas, we’ve mapped out the challenges facing our business and the wider industry to four key themes, where we’d particularly welcome proposals.

The efficiency challenge

There’s always room to improve – and our customers expect us to do so. How can we deliver the same work, but much cheaper, faster or more flexibly – without ever compromising safety? Can we find and prove new methods to isolate, modify, repair, divert or decommission our assets better than before?


  • Cheaper, faster valve remediation, for example, solutions that require no excavation, less excavation, keyhole robotics and automation
  • Cheaper, faster decommissioning
  • Cheaper, faster diversions
  • Cheaper, faster network change and modifications
  • Flexible isolations, for example no-dig, less dig, inline, mobile, faster or cheaper, and inline isolations

Asset management

By 2021, more than 70% of our sites and pipelines will be more than 40 years old. What are the newest, smartest techniques to collect and exploit data about these assets? What new technology and methods are there to repair and replace aging assets? Are there new solutions to old problems that give more flexibility?


  • Smarter ways to collect and exploit data that improves asset management
  • New techniques and materials for asset repair and replacement, and flexible and mobile compressor station solutions

Future of the National Transmission System (NTS)

While it’s difficult to predict the future for gas, we do expect it will require a more flexible and responsive network. What do we need to investigate and develop now in order to operate a more widely distributed gas system? How can we welcome non-traditional gas sources and be ready to meet future gas transmission network demands? And how can we get the gas and electricity infrastructure working more closely?


  • Operating a more distributed gas system
  • Designing for a future gas transmission network
  • Opening up opportunities for emerging or non-traditional gas sources, and developing new methods of interaction between the gas and electricity networks

Safety and performance impact

We aim to be a low emissions operator. How can we cut CO2, CO and NOx emissions further, reduce venting and leakage, and minimise our wider footprint? What new technology could monitor, detect and identify interference to protect the network? How can we improve the security and resilience of the gas transmission system?


  • Ideas to significantly reduce emissions
  • Protecting our assets from third-party interference, and improving physical security, cyber security and resilience on our network

How to submit your proposal

It’s easy to share your NIC ideas with us:

  • Download and complete a proposal form and read our extra guidance and support
  • Subject matter experts (SMEs) from our business will be on hand to give advice and help you refine your proposal
  • Submit ideas to us by 30 November
  • We’ll score them against our guidance criteria and you’ll know the outcome in January 2018
  • If it meets the criteria, we’ll progress it with you to produce an initial screening proposal (ISP) for Ofgem to review in April 2018
  • If Ofgem approves the ISP in May 2018, we’ll proceed to full project submission with a deadline in Autumn 2018

In the event that your proposal shows merit but is not progressed via the NIC, we will consider the potential of it being funded as a Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) project.

So there we have it. There are huge opportunities to develop a flagship low carbon innovation project, driving change across the gas industry and beyond – don’t miss the opportunity to submit your idea!

We encourage anyone with a great idea to come forward and help us shape the future of energy in the UK.

If you have any questions, require SME advice or wish to submit a proposal, contact us.

Gas innovation in full flow