Ofgem has awarded funding of £46.8 million to four projects as part of its annual network innovation competitions.

Each year the regulator runs two network innovation competitions (NICs), one for gas and one for electricity.

Through the gas and electricity NICs, network companies can apply for funding to deliver innovative projects which have the potential to provide benefits to energy customers.

This year UK Power Networks, SP Energy Networks, Cadent and National Grid are the companies that have been successful.

Projects testing how networks will manage demand from commercial fleets of electric vehicles and incorporate hydrogen on the gas grid are among those that have been awarded the funding, which comes from the price controls the regulator sets for network companies.

The controls determine the cost consumers pay for the networks on their bills.

The projects and winning bidders are:

  • UK Power Networks: Optimise Prime – Trialling and gathering data on the charging patterns of different commercial fleets of electric vehicles (£16.4 million)
  • SP Energy Networks: Charge – Plotting the ideal locations for electric vehicle charging points, including testing of on street charging and charge points in other locations including the work place and shopping centres (£6.85 million)
  • Cadent: HyDeploy2 – Further testing of blending hydrogen with natural gas supplied to homes and businesses with a view to deploying it across Britain’s gas networks (£13.28 million)
  • National Grid: Black Start from Distributed Energy Resources (DER) – Trialling new ways of enhancing electricity security of supply (£10.27 million)

Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s executive director for systems and networks, said: “Millions of us will be driving electric vehicles in future.

“There is also significant potential for using hydrogen blended gas to help decarbonise how we heat the country’s homes and businesses.

“This year’s network innovation competitions will help network companies to react quickly to these changes in the most effective and lowest cost way.

“As the energy system continues to transform, it is vital that network companies incorporate innovation which benefits consumers into their daily working practices.

“We also want to see increased collaboration on innovation projects, making it easier for non-network businesses with new approaches and technologies to help facilitate the changes that the system will require.”

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