Utility Week

Utility Week 28th November 2014

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6 | 28th November - 4th December 2014 | UtILItY WeeK People & Opinion We're talking about innovation The LCNI conference heard how networks are at the forefront of energy industry innovation. Chief executive's view David Smith, chief executive, Energy Networks Association R ecently, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) hosted its annual innovation conference in Aber- deen. The Low Carbon Networks Innovation Conference (LCNI) 2014 brought together network operators and other stakehold- ers to share knowledge and experience of the fascinating innovation projects which are underway in our sector. This year's event attracted delegates from 14 countries from around the world, and demon- strated that UK networks are playing a leading role in meeting the challenges of our energy future. As we move towards a low-carbon economy, the wires and pipes of our transmission and distribution infrastructure will need to accommodate a rapid increase in intermittent generation from renewables; increased demand from the electrification of heat and transport; and the introduction of green gas. If we are to adapt to these changes in a way that is affordable for customers, then innovation and new technology will be crucial. Network innovation began in earnest in 2010, with Ofgem's introduction of a new £500 mil- lion funding stream for low-car- bon innovation in the electricity distribution network. Under the new RIIO regulatory framework, this funding has been expanded across all gas and electricity networks through new Network Innovation Allowances and Net- work Innovation Competitions. The LCNI conference has an important role to play in ensuring that these new funding mechanisms deliver value for money over the coming dec- ades. By showcasing projects, demonstrating new products and sharing experiences, the industry is working together to drive forward innovation and transform our networks to save customers billions of pounds. In Aberdeen we had an incredible insight into the pro- gress that has been made so far, and the role that technology is already playing in our networks. We saw how companies are looking to use battery storage technology and integrate that into the distribution network as a solution to intermittent supply from wind and solar. We saw how schools, businesses and factories are working with network operators in demand- side response projects which are saving customers' money on energy bills and ensuring net- work companies can make the most of their existing capacity, without needing to throw copper into the ground for expensive reinforcements. In gas innova- tion, companies demonstrated how robotics can be used to locate and repair damage to the gas pipes without the need to dig up roads and pavements. I am proud of the way ENA's innovation conference has grown over recent years, and I believe our networks have become the most exciting and innovative part of the energy industry. The question now is how some of the projects demonstrated at this year's event transfer into business as usual for companies and deliver significant savings for custom- ers. That will be explored at LCNI 2015 in Liverpool next year, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in these areas to attend. You can find out more about the innovation projects that are currently underway through ENA's online Smarter Networks Portal: www.smarter- networks.org. "Now Electricity Market Reform is legislated and being implemented, it is time for policymakers to reassess their priorities" Jonathan Reynolds MP and Dan Byles MP call for the prioritisation of heat in energy policy in a new report Pathways to Heat from Carbon Connect "Breakthroughs come from actively seeking different points of view. Innovation is powered by diversity and fostered by inclusion" Marillyn Hewson, chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, celebrates the anniversary of the US Department of Energy's Minorities in Energy Initiative

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