Green light for nine projects to accelerate pace of change towards net-zero

SP Energy Networks have been given the green light to progress with £1.2m worth of projects to help tackle some of the UK’s biggest and most complex network challenges. Nine projects will now move into an early trial phase where our solutions to help move the country towards achieving its Net Zero emissions targets will be assessed. 

We have had all nine of our proposals – funded by network users and consumers under the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), an Ofgem programme managed in partnership with Innovate UK – approved as we seek to deliver innovation through pioneering Net Zero projects. 

The SIF initiative was launched in 2021 by energy industry regulator Ofgem and Innovate UK to find and fund ambitious, innovative projects with the potential to accelerate the transition to Net Zero across the electricity and gas sectors. 

Our nine projects are focused on areas critical to achieving the UK’s ambitious zero emissions targets – from the decarbonisation of heat, where we see a real opportunity to both minimise the need for upgrading the network whilst reducing domestic reliance on fossil fuels for heating, to exploring the use of hydrogen and electrification solutions to enable cost effective rail travel. We have also committed to finding new ways to re-use or re-cycle assets with other industries to reduce what we send to landfill, and are building on our past innovation project successes by looking at how we can use Distributed Energy Resources (such as solar PV or battery storage) as a proactive means of enhancing the stability of the electricity network. 

Graham Campbell, our Director of Processes and Technology, said: “This significant investment from the Strategic Innovation Fund shows the critical role innovation plays in us achieving Net Zero. 

“These nine projects are a culmination of several months of collaboration across the industry to drive change. In 2021 we engaged with over 100 stakeholders, which has led to us now working with 27 partners including academics, industry experts, solutions providers and product delivery partners. These projects are being delivered by our industry, and we’re committed to working with parties of all sizes in the wider SIF portfolio, continuing to give opportunities to SMEs.” 

The Strategic Innovation Fund is currently in its ‘Discovery’ phase for each project, where proposed solutions to industry challenges are assessed. Until the end of April 2022, our project teams will frame the challenge, quantify the benefits of our proposed solution, engage with key users and then identify the most cost-effective way to deliver it. 

The projects will then apply to the ‘Alpha’ phase of the SIF Programme, where we would test the solutions and build a consortium before seeking funding for the final ‘Beta’ stage, where the solution will be demonstrated. 

Alan Ross, Director of Engineering and Asset Management (Scotland) at Network Rail – a partner on our SIF projects, said: “Our commitment to a low carbon society is set out in our Environmental Sustainability Strategy, with a crucial aspect being a holistic and collaborative approach. We are delighted to see the initial success and look forward to accelerating our transition, working together with SP Energy Networks under the Strategic Innovation Fund.”