Innovation update April 2022

Innovation update April 2022

In this issue we recognise an important first on the Reflex project, provide an update on QUEST and introduce the new Innovation Strategy from ENA and the Strategic Innovation Fund from Ofgem.

First Reflex unit goes live

Reflex - April 2022.jpgWe’ve successfully installed and commissioned the first Reflex unit on our live network, working with our innovation project partner, Nortech. It’s a purpose-built, low-cost, fully-integrated alternative to the actuators currently used on our switchgear and forms a key part of our quality of supply (QoS) strategy.

Pete Merry, Telemetry Technician, said: “It’s been great to receive a well-thought out, robust and innovative product. A great deal of our recommendations were taken on board which has inspired great confidence, both in the manufacturer and the Reflex unit itself. I’m sure it’ll serve us well.”

Control engineers were able to operate the switch remotely from the Network Management Hub, and engineers on site carried out the first ever local operation of the switch via Bluetooth using the new innovative Reflex Operators app.

Head of Network Innovation, Dan Randles, said: “After almost two years of hard work, I’m delighted to see the first Reflex unit on our live network. By working collaboratively with colleagues from across the business, we’ve once again shown that we’re leading the way in transitioning innovation into business-as-usual and delivering significant benefits to customers.”

ENA’s new Network Innovation Strategy published

ENA Innovation Strategy - April 2022.PNGAlongside Energy Networks Association (ENA) and the other energy networks, we’re excited to launch the 2022 Energy Networks Innovation Strategy, which you can find here.

Stakeholder feedback has shaped every section of this strategy and we hope you’ll be able to see the influence of your feedback reflected throughout. 

The aim of the strategy is to enable all energy network stakeholders to understand the key priorities for network innovation and how to get involved. We hope this strategy will help the innovation community better understand how to collaborate with the networks to solve some of the biggest challenges faced by the industry.

Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)

SIF - April 2022.PNGThe SIF is a new funding mechanism from Ofgem that replaces the Network Innovation Competition. It aims to find and fund ambitious, innovative projects with the potential to accelerate the transition to net zero which help to shape the future of gas and electricity networks. The SIF is delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, and aims to work with other publish funders of innovation so that activities appropriately funded by energy users and consumers are co-ordinated with activities funded by Government.

It was recently confirmed that Ofgem will permit DNOs to lead applications in the next Discovery window, which is expected to open in September 2022, instead of waiting to participate in the 2023 competition.

QUEST makes good progress

QUEST - April 2022.PNGWe published our first Project Progress Report for QUEST in December. This covers the period between 9 December 2020 and 9 December 2021 and outlines our progress, milestones achieved and any major challenges and risks, and gives an overview of learning and dissemination to date.

We held our second Industry Steering Group, which is designed to ensure the project potential is maximised and provide an opportunity for industry colleagues to provide feedback on the project direction, review our project outputs and help to construct a plan for transfer to BAU. This was attended by Northern Power Grid and UK Power Networks, and we found that attendees were keen to engage on the project and feedback so far is positive.

We also published our second project deliverable report, “QUEST System Design and Architecture Lessons Learned”. This builds upon the first deliverable report to ensure that the design and architecture options selected will help to achieve the project goals. You can find the deliverable report and all associated documents on our website.

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