Utility Week

UW October Digital edition

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Page 33 of 43

34 | OCTOBER 2020 | UTILITY WEEK Operational Excellence Analysis T he EIC (formerly the Energy Innova- tion Centre) has swapped one industry heavyweight chair for another – with David Gray (former chair of Ofgem) replac- ing Tony Cocker (ex-Eon UK chief executive) over the summer when the latter's two-year tenure expired. Utility Week spoke to both of them about the role of innovation in the utilities sector, embracing the "right to fail" and their respective takes on how the RIIO2 determinations will affect investment in new solutions. Says Gray: "There is an intrinsic enthu- siasm for net zero. Perhaps because of what has happened with Covid, people and organ- isations are more open about what to do next. This is an opportunity to be seized, to capitalise on an enthusiasm for doing things differently." The new chair of the EIC clearly relishes the opportunity to be once again at the centre of change in the utilities sector. Aer a total of nine years at Ofgem, Gray says it is "good to be on the other side" and to use his knowledge of the sector to guide a path through what he admits can seem a complex environment for innovators. Cocker spent two years as chair of Elles- mere Port-based EIC, overseeing its expan- sion beyond its traditional base of energy and into water and rail. The ethos, however, remains the same – the EIC acts as a bridge between the innovator community and the monopolies. Its funding still comes from the networks and both men say the next step is to move away from annual payments – creating what EIC refers to as a coalition for the future, in which utilities partners sign up a five- year period spanning their respective price controls. Cocker explains: "If you have that coali- tion of the willing, then for other players in the ecosystem there's greater clarity of pur- pose and direction and therefore transpar- ency of what people are trying to achieve. That reduces the risk of duplication and will hopefully improve the pace of support for innovation." Normalising risk Both accept that the utilities sector may not Utilities find a place for innovation Innovators must have the 'right to fail', according to the EIC's new chair, David Gray – and previous chair Tony Cocker agrees with him, as long as critical services are protected. James Wallin spoke to both of them, and asked for their take on the latest RIIO2 determinations. Utility Week has launched a new stream of technical and opera- tional content called Operational Excellence, which showcases inno- vation and best practice. Here are some highlights of coverage from this hub on utilityweek.co.uk The rate of change Last August's blackout highlighted long- standing problems around "nuisance tripping" of hundreds of megawatts of distributed generation with overly sensi- tive loss of mains protections. It put extra pressure on electricity networks to make sure their Acceler- ated Loss of Mains Change Programme, launched the following month, lives up to its name. According to National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), half of the gen- erators that will be required to make the changes by April 2022 have now submit- ted applications. However, the applica- tions they have received so far no doubt represent the low-hanging fruit. You can read an interview with ESO's network operability manager Graham Stein here: https://utilityweek.co.uk/ nuisance-tripping-project-reaches-half- way-point/ Smart thinking in water Tackling leakage and water efficiency are central planks of business plans across the water sector for the next five years. Clearly water meters have a role to play in both educating the public and in identifying water loss through leakage. But, given the experiences of the energy sector in introducing smart meters, the question of which type of technology has the best potential for rapid rollout is key. Water correspondent, Ruth Williams explores the subect in depth, here: https://utilityweek.co.uk/water-metering- how-smart-is-too-smart/ One small step could enable one giant leap for UK energy Matthew Roderick, former CTO at the Data Communications Company and now CEO of n3rgy, wrote a thought-provoking piece for Utility Week on what he sees as the lack of meaningful progress on local flexibility. You read the full article here: https:// utilityweek.co.uk/one-small-step-could- enable-one-giant-leap-for-uk-energy/ New beginnings

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