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.
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.
Setting the Standard
We work hard to deploy innovations across our footprint; firstly, ensuring we support the UK’s energy transition, secondly, supporting our customers in vulnerable situations and thirdly, our localised operating model continues to enable innovations into our networks to further improve our operational efficiency.
Supporting the UK’s Energy Transition
Despite the restrictions COVID-19 presented during 2020-2021, we have continued to influence policy decisions on the future role of gas and the development of hydrogen as a future energy to support decarbonisation and to meet net zero targets. We are leading the way with the development of a broad range of evidence-based programmes that are supporting the case for hydrogen as a technology for use in industry, transport and for heating. In addition to these programmes, Summer 2022 also sees the completion of the Optinet project which supports the Gas Goes Green initiative.
Supporting Customers in Vulnerable Situations
We continually strive to deliver a quality experience to all our customers. Their expectations change along with societal progression; and need to innovate at pace, particularly for customers in vulnerable situations. We recognise that individual needs and levels of vulnerability are ever changing. Our EasyAssist ECV (Emergency Control Valve) project has harnessed technology for those customers with limited mobility and enables a better solution for isolating their gas supply in the event of a gas emergency. We continue to work with internal and external partners and stakeholders to proactively adapt our strategy to reflect progressive thinking.
Always Improving Operational Efficiency
Our localised teams proactively work to meet the objectives of improving efficiency within their respective networks. Good examples of this can be seen in the delivery of our Duraseal project, which sees the operational improvement of our repair techniques, leading to reduced costs and
improved network resilience. We also saw the introduction of Valve Track in our North West network - a low powered tracking device that is activated through a secure mobile application. This allows our field force operatives to expediently locate underground assets whilst acquiring asset records specifically for the asset in question. In our North London network, we have successfully trialled Pipeline Spacers, which will soon be introduced as business as usual and will further support the safety of our field force. Energy Centres is another North London development, which sees the feasibility study of an energy exchange for multi-occupancy buildings (MOBs). We then move to the West Midlands for a customer service improvement initiative which sees the introduction of video surveying in the form of Vyn - connecting with customers.
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.
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 2022/23
Innovation Annual Summary 2021/22
Innovation Annual Summary 2020/21
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 Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).
Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)
In the RIIO-2 price control, NIA provides limited funding to RIIO network licensees to enable them to take forward innovation projects that have the potential to address consumer vulnerability and/or deliver longer–term financial and environmental benefits for consumers, which they would not otherwise undertake within the price control. For projects to be eligible for NIA funding, the projects must comply with the requirements in the RIIO-2 NIA Governance Document, which is available in publication list below.
Our NIA themes:
1. Net zero and the energy system transition
2. Supporting consumers in vulnerable situations
Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF)
The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) is an Ofgem programme managed in partnership with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The SIF aims to fund network innovation that will contribute to achieving Net Zero rapidly and at lowest cost to consumers and help transform the UK into the ‘Silicon Valley’ of energy, making it the best place for high-potential businesses to grow and scale in the energy market.
Our SIF themes:
1. Supporting a just energy transition
2. Preparing for a net zero power system
3. Improving energy system resilience and robustness
4. Accelerating decarbonisation of major energy demands
Working with the Energy Networks Association (ENA)
Energy Networks Association represents the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
The ENA help members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Our affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
Find out more information here - ENA Innovation Portal
Network innovation data sharing policy
To ensure compliance with the NIA and SIF 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.