Innovation

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In an industry that is rapidly transforming to meet national decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods targets, innovation is the backbone of our operations; supporting and enhancing all our business planning areas. A cutting-edge innovation programme is helping to create next-generation networks that shape our future energy system while reducing costs and improving the service we deliver.

Innovation has helped us achieve our current strong business position, allowing us to focus on building a smarter local network by introducing web services, making the best use of smart meter data, and addressing affordability issues. Moving into our next planning period (2023-2028), we will further harness innovation across our business plan areas to reduce costs and improve customer service as we transform our network to meet net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing .

Four strategic objectives for innovation will inform these plans:

  • charting the best course to net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing – developing and deploying technologies that accelerate decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods at a lower cost;
  • unlocking the value of open data Customers may use data to assess network capacity ahead of installing low-carbon technology or assess the forecasts we are making about the increase in heat pumps. Making data available is a key part of how we can support customers in the shift to net zero collaboratively – working with partnersOrganisations with whom we collaborate on projects and operations within our regions and our sector to open new channels to exploit data flows efficiently across the energy system;
  • achieving next-level energy system dependability – increasing the reliability, resilience and security of our network to improve regional and overall system dependability; and
  • making sure all customers benefit – promoting and safeguarding the interests of all our customers, particularly those who could otherwise be left behind in the energy transition.

Our innovation approach will enable us to:

  • identify opportunities to accelerate the benefits of flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network; i
  • develop sophisticated data management and analytics to inform energy system forecasting, planning and real-time decision making;
  • enhance our connections process to facilitate higher volumes and different connection types;
  • maintain the dependability of the energy system during the net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing transition;
  • remove the barriers preventing access to energy; and
  • create capabilities to deliver a next-generation local energy network that connects with whole-system energy sources and vectors, balancing in real time. ii

Benefits:

  • containing and reducing business costs;
  • use of lost cost energy at times of plentiful generation;
  • reduced disruption at times of reduced generation;
  • more targeted and lower-cost reinforcement Reinforcement is where we invest customers’ money to improve network capacity. Sometimes we will seek to defer or delay this using other techniques – such as flexibility – to provide better value for money for customers and flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network purchasing;
  • faster and more tailored connections and installations service;
  • reduced cost for labour-intensive processes;
  • ensuring the electricity network is not a barrier to decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods;
  • a dependable energy supply, even with reduced number of energy sources;
  • a dependable energy system that customers can rely on; and
  • a fair and equitable net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing transition.

i flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network is the ability to increase or decrease the production or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers.

ii As distributed renewable energy sources provide more of the electricity to our grid, balancing the supply of our grid with demand, using renewable sources and battery storage, will become increasingly important to securing our supply both on our local network and the national energy system as a whole.

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