News and Events
Areas of strategic interest
Five areas of strategic interest guide our modernisation investment for the long-term. They are:
Deploy smart grids
The emergence of new technologies such as small-scale generation, batteries, and electric vehicles challenges us to find ways to provide network access without simply resorting to building bigger assets. Using smarter technology to actively manage the network and to get more capacity out it is an example of what we are trying to achieve. But we are not limiting ourselves to technological improvements to our assets: we also explore how we can encourage others to become more active in their pursuit of low-carbon solutions and where we can facilitate flexibility.
Maximise the value of smart meters
Smart meters bring access to new information about network performance in, or close to, real time. In most circumstances, we will no longer need customers to call us to tell us that they are without power. We will also know exactly which customers are driving what capacity requirements on the network. We are exploring opportunities to use that information to improve our response to power outages and to plan the network more intelligently, including how to measure and target the reduction of electrical network losses.
Develop digital services
Continued growth in web-based and digital-enabled services is introducing the possibility of enhanced customer interface and customer services. We work to develop our customer-facing systems and assets, improve the quality of the data that we hold, and streamline our background processes.
As provider of services that are paid for by all energy customers, we accept the imperative to keep downward pressure on our costs. Innovation trials help us find more cost-efficient ways to design, build and construct the network. We also are on the lookout to improve our involvement in addressing and alleviating fuel poverty, and in energy efficiency.
Safety and environment
We are committed to promoting environmental awareness, best practice, and legal compliance amongst all staff. We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and manage the environmental impact of our activities very closely. This includes our carbon footprint, the risk of noise, water and land pollution, waste recycling, and the care for wildlife. We also manage the visual impact of our overhead lines, balancing the network requirements with our stakeholders’ input.
How we fund innovation
We are involved in innovation in various ways: either by leading projects, or by partnering on projects. Projects are funded through different sources. We have access to the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) through the regulator Ofgem, which is worth up to £29m over eight years, and we can also benefit from specialist funding sources (e.g. Innovate UK) through partnering with universities or other industrial partners.
We provide here a list of all recent innovation projects that we run. In addition, and where possible, we look to collaborate with other network companies, as we are faced with similar issues. You can find a list of all projects, including those we collaborate on, on the Smarter Networks portal.
Get in Touch
Ian Miller Head of Innovation
“We do not see innovation as limited to a department or as a sideline of our business at Northern Powergrid. It is a capability, a culture. The team I lead, creates a common vision across the business of the future network and the services it will provide, sets the yearly priorities and helps develop innovation projects to something usable we can deploy.
"If you’d like to share an idea that aligns with these priorities or a question to ask, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org .
"If you are new to energy networks innovation and want more information, this industry guide may help.”