Western Power Distribution (WPD), the distribution network operator for the Midlands, the South West and South Wales, is encouraging innovators to turn their ideas into reality by working with them in its 2021 Network Innovation Competition (NIC) call for ideas. As part of the annual NIC scheme, which is run by the regulatory body Ofgem, electricity network companies are invited to compete for funding for the development and demonstration of new technologies, operating and commercial arrangements.
The call for ideas is open to companies, individuals, groups and projects that can support WPD with future NIC schemes.
Funding will be awarded to the best projects focusing on areas such as data usage in energy transition, electrification of heat, decarbonisation and the electrification of transport.
Successful applicants get the opportunity to work with WPD’s engineers to develop their idea into a multi-million pound project. NIC projects run for three to four years, allowing enough time to design, develop, test and trial solutions.
The WPD is looking for projects to address the following:
- How can we best use data to operate our networks more efficiently, and create value for stakeholders?
- How will the electrification of heat impact our networks, how can we leverage customer flexibility?
- How can we help authorities to act on the implications of local decarbonisation ambitions?
- How can we facilitate network capacity to support electric vehicle charging in bad network areas?
Yiango Mavrocostanti, Team Manager at WPD, comments: “We’ve seen exciting innovations emerge from NIC projects and are looking forward to seeing what is put forward. As we modernise the network and look to utilise new technologies, it will become important to work with a range of partners outside of the traditional sector, harnessing different innovation. This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate innovative work and apply it to the modernisation of the network.
“If you have an idea that will help us towards net zero, please apply.”
Previous projects include DC Share which was launched earlier this year. The project aims to deliver EV charging in town centres without the need to upscale electricity infrastructure. Facilitating the charging of 110,000 vehicles projected to be in use across the South West by 2023.
Applications must meet Ofgem’s criteria and demonstrate their potential impact on the planning or operation of the network. Projects must: demonstrate the potential to save money for customers and generate learning that can be transferred around the UK.