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Press releases

    • Electricity North West discusses its Low Carbon Networks Fund bid


      Electricity North West, the region's electricity network operator, has made a £10m bid for government funding to increase capacity on the region's network and help meet the UK's tough low-carbon targets.

      Electricity North West's innovative proposal to Ofgem's Low Carbon Networks Fund (LCNF) involves using new technology to increase the energy demands transmitted through the infrastructure that's already in place throughout the region.

      The project, dubbed Capacity to Customers, (C2C), will take advantage of the latent capacity that exists within the current network and could reduce the amount of new infrastructure that would normally be needed to meet growing demand for electricity, which is predicted to double by 2050.

      Electricity North West's project will involve major energy users in the region signing up to a trial which will offer incentives to switch their consumption patterns and prioritise their energy usage. If successful, it could lead to reduced costs for new connections and lower charges for participating businesses.

      If funding is secured and the project approved, the C2C trial will run for two and a half years and involve an investment of £10.7m. Electricity North West is bidding for £9.1m of LCNF cash as part of the project's total funding requirements.

    • Electricity North West receives £10.7m from Ofgem for capacity trial

      The company which distributes electricity to 2.4 million properties in the north west has secured funding from Ofgem for a £10.7m trial which could double the capacity of power networks without the need for new cables or overhead lines.

      Electricity North West, based in Warrington, said it plans to open up the half of the regional network that is currently reserved as a back-up and use it to distribute power to homes and businesses to meet increased demand.

      If it proves successful, the project could reduce the need for costly new infrastructure and will provide additional capacity to developments more quickly.

      Ofgem is providing £9.2m for the trial through its Low Carbon Networks Fund. ENW and other partners will invest £1.5m.

      Steve Johnson, chief executive of ENW, said: “This project aims to get more out of what's already built by bringing together new technology developed by our engineers and partners to transform the way distribution companies like Electricity North West operate networks.

      “Half of the electricity in the region isn't used and is simply on stand-by to kick in when there's an emergency. This isn't the most productive use of assets that cost billions to build. Our new project will release this latent capacity on a controlled basis.

      “This could have a profound effect on the way distribution is managed in the future.”

      ENW owns and manages 13,000km of overhead lines, 43,000km of underground cables and 38,000 transformers and serves five million people across the region.

      It said demand for electricity could double by 2050 as the UK reduces its reliance on fossil fuels.

      The trial will run for three years from January and, if successful, could be implemented across the UK by other network operators.  Firms including Parsons Brinckerhoff, GE Energy, npower and National Grid as well as Manchester University will work with ENW on the project.

      Source: Manchester Evening News

    • £10m low-carbon bid for North West

      A multimillion-pound scheme that could see the North West develop a revolutionary new way to manage its energy network is through to the second stage of a national competition.

      Energy regulator, Ofgem, today announced that Electricity North West’s bid to the Low Carbon Networks Fund has passed the initial screening stage and the operator will be invited to submit a full bid.

      Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2050, due to more people using electricity for heating and transport instead of fossil fuels. Traditional ways to cope with this demand would be to double the size of electricity networks, however Electricity North West hopes to investigate using spare capacity already built into the network, as an alternative to building more lines.

      Paul Bircham, Electricity North West’s Customer Strategy and Regulation Director, said: “All electricity networks have spare capacity built in so that if there’s a power cut on one circuit, another circuit can take on additional supplies until the original circuit is restored.

      “In reality, this spare capacity is very rarely used. If we’re successful with the bid, then we’ll develop the technology to be able to free-up this capacity to enable more power to be distributed along our network, and manage the risk in a different way, through demand-side management.

      “Getting through to the next stage of the bidding process is great news – this trial could really make a difference to how networks are operated in the future.”

      Electricity North West has bid for £10.1 to Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund and has been invited to submit a more detailed proposal later this year.

      “This investment would allow us to be at the forefront of innovation nationally,” added Paul. “It would be a real boost for the North West and could play a big role in helping us move to a low-carbon economy.”

      The final submission is due in August, with a decision by an expert panel due in November.

    • Ofgem approves £57 million for projects paving the way for smarter grids

      Energy regulator Ofgem has today announced that six projects are to share £57 million of funding to help local power networks become smarter. The money comes from Ofgem‟s £500 million Low Carbon Networks Fund (LCN Fund).

      The projects will run in several areas across Britain, piloting new technology and commercial arrangements. They will create learning which will be shared amongst all local grid companies so they can develop the networks of the future. Innovation could reduce the need to invest in new network assets such as substations or overhead lines by making better use of those which are already there.

      Rachel Fletcher, Ofgem‟s Acting Senior Partner for Smarter Grids, Governance and Distribution, said: “Britain‟s energy grids need to undergo a revolution in how they are run so they can connect more renewable generators and a range of low carbon technologies such as ground source heat pumps. There is a significant opportunity for companies to contain the cost of this transition by making better use of existing capacity and exploring the scope to use demand side response.

      “Lessons learnt from the projects will be shared with all network companies and other interested parties. The aim here is to ensure that the networks do not hold up the decarbonisation of our energy use, and that the cost of this transition is kept as low as possible for customers.”

      One of the projects involves installing electric storage batteries in homes, schools and an office to see if customers could be encouraged to use this stored electricity at times of peak demand. This would reduce the load on the networks and mean customers would be rewarded with lower bills.

      Another project involves using network capacity which up to now, has only been used in the event of outages due to power cuts or planned maintenance. This „latent‟ capacity could be used to connect more renewables without impacting on secure supplies. Several projects involve better use of existing network capacity to manage congestion on the grid, or looking at how more low carbon generation can be connected without having to build new power lines.

      Source: Ofgem

    • Electricity North West in £10m Innovation Fund bid

      The North West’s electricity network operator has today made a £10m bid for government funding to increase capacity on the region’s network and help meet the UK’s tough low-carbon targets.


      Electricity North West’s innovative proposal to Ofgem's Low Carbon Networks Fund (LCNF) involves using new technology to increase the energy demands transmitted through the infrastructure that’s already in place throughout the region.

      The project, dubbed Capacity to Customers, (C2C), will take advantage of the latent capacity that exists within the current network and could reduce the amount of new infrastructure that would normally be needed to meet growing demand for electricity, which is predicted to double by 2050.

      Electricity North West’s chief executive, Steve Johnson, said: “At any given time, the existing distribution network could theoretically carry up to twice as much electricity to homes and businesses in the region – but this additional capacity is currently required in case there is a fault. It's a long-established principle and requirement for all distribution network operators to have this latent capacity built into their network.

      “Secure power supplies are critical for all our customers and for the North West’s economic activity. The move to a low carbon economy we will see much higher demand for electricity in future with some experts predicting a doubling in demand by 2050.

      “The cost of simply doubling the existing network would be huge and so Electricity North West is leading several areas of research into new ways of getting more capacity from the existing network. This research will help ensure costs are kept to a minimum whilst maintaining secure power supplies to customers.

      Electricity North West’s C2C project will involve major energy users in the region signing up to a trial which will offer incentives to switch their consumption patterns and prioritise their energy usage. If successful, it could lead to reduced costs for new connections and lower charges for participating businesses.

      If funding is secured and the project approved, the C2C trial will run for two and a half years and involve an investment of £10.7m. Electricity North West is bidding for £9.1m of LCNF cash as part of the project’s total funding requirements.

      The LCNF allows up to £500m support for DNO-sponsored projects to try out new technology, operating and commercial arrangements.