Innovation is about doing things differently to benefit customers and our environment. By embracing innovation, we can find the most up-to-date tools and techniques to keep gas flowing safely, reliably and with minimal disruption to customers.
We take tools and ideas from initial concept through feasibility testing, and all the way through to trials to ensure they are fit for purpose and can deliver real value to our customers.
Our innovation projects will ensure we are ready to take our customers into a low carbon energy future in a safe, secure and affordable way.
How we innovate
We work collaboratively with the other gas distribution networks on individual projects and share learning from all of our projects.
Working together helps customers benefit from the sharing of effective new ways of working and future technology.
We work in partnership with EIC
to bring forward new innovations and technologies from small to medium enterprises from around the world that could potentially be applied to the gas network.
The Gas Network Innovation Strategy
has been developed by all of the gas distribution networks and National Grid. It brings together all of the most important challenges and opportunities facing the GB gas transmission and distribution networks, and sets the foundations for how we innovate.
What we innovate for
Working with our partners across the industry, we innovate to tackle the following challenges:
Keeping people safe, warm and independent in their home
Anyone can be vulnerable if their circumstances change. Rather than using labels, we prefer to focus on individual needs and what we can do to ensure customers stay safe, warm, connected and independent in their home.
As part of our commitments as a Dementia Friendly Utility, we are working with innovators and charity partners to identify new solutions that can help people living with Dementia(s). We lead and chair the National Mental Capacity Forum (NMCF) Utilities Working Group, and spearhead a number of cross-industry innovation initiatives to transform experiences for customers across gas, electricity, water and communications.
We want to work with innovators of all kinds to tackle the challenges faced by people in vulnerable situations. That’s why we launched the Connect the Community: Design Challenge in partnership with RS Components and Nordic Semiconductor, inviting young engineers and entrepreneurial minds to devise technological solutions that can help people live safely and independently. We are now working with the winners and our wider supply chain to take their proposals from concept to reality.
Tackling climate change – a cleaner, greener future
The target for a net zero UK by 2050 is now well established, and we continue to build towards it using a range of fuel sources including network-delivered hydrogen. Both renewable electricity and green gas have key roles to play in meeting the needs of domestic and industrial consumers in a net zero carbon future. Find out more about the future of gas.
Transforming our customer operations
One of our key priorities is to provide a quality experience to all customers, and we are pushing ahead with industry-leading projects to minimise disruption. Our focus now and for the foreseeable future is to keep innovating at pace, bringing effective tools, techniques and processes to market to keep the energy flowing safely, reliably and with minimal disruption.
We have successfully embraced new tools and techniques into our day-to-day operations, such as robotic technology to improve our gas pipes. Our other successes include developing proven technology to remove water from our gas pipes in emergency situations, and cost-effective repair techniques to address gas leaks in the street.
Finding faster, better ways to upgrade our network
It is essential that we maintain a safe and reliable network for our customers, and our gas mains replacement programme is allowing us to upgrade the gas pipes in the communities we serve, keeping gas flowing safely and reliably to homes and businesses.
We are always seeking the latest engineering techniques to reduce the number of holes we dig, speed up the job and allow customers to get on with their day-to-day lives.
On top of this, we embrace new technology to minimise the impact on customers’ gas supply pipes in blocks of flats. Some of our technology solutions even allow us to work on ‘live’ gas supply pipes so customers experience no interruption to their supplies at all.
Each year, we produce an Innovation Annual Summary to share with you our progress on existing projects, as well as the new and exciting projects we have launched that year. You can see our most recent Innovation Annual Summary documents below.
Innovation Annual Summary 2019/20
Innovation Annual Summary 2018/19
Innovation Annual Summary 2017/18
Innovation Annual Summary 2016/17
How we are funded
The industry regulator, Ofgem, provides funding to support innovation projects which deliver customer benefits. Gas distribution networks bid for this money under the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) or the Network Innovation Competition (NIC).
Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)
The NIA is an Ofgem incentive mechanism for funding smaller innovation projects that can deliver benefits to customers.
The NIA is a set annual allowance that allows us, and other network licensees a funding opportunity of 0.7 per cent of revenue to be spent on innovation projects, 90 per cent of which can be recovered through the incentive mechanism.
Network Innovation Competition (NIC)
The NIC is an annual competition to fund flagship innovative projects which could deliver carbon or environmental benefits for gas customers, and that would not otherwise be funded.
This provides the opportunity for network licensees to work collaboratively. A maximum of two project submissions can be made to compete to obtain funding from the NIC; up to a maximum of £18m for the gas distribution industry.
Network innovation data sharing policy
To ensure compliance with the NIA and NIC Governance Documents, there is a requirement for Cadent to define the terms of a publicly available data sharing policy and how interested parties can request this information.