Funding in excess of £29 million has been awarded by the Energy Innovation Centre (EIC) for companies looking to bring new and innovative ideas to the UK’s energy market. The funding originates from Ofgem’s Innovation Funding Incentive scheme and the £500m Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund.

Investments will be selected by electricity distributors Electricity North West, Northern Power Grid, ScottishPower Energy Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy and UK Power Networks. Each of these companies will be looking to implement new services and technologies to enhance the way power is transported, monitored and stored in the coming years.

Denise Massey, Director of the Energy Innovation Centre, said: “This is another huge step forward for innovators and businesses that need to accelerate their ideas to market. As part of this initiative we will continue to deliver a range of support services, including opportunities to test technologies on high and low voltage power networks and establish relationships with potential customers.

 “This is an opportunity for the UK to further develop the way energy is distributed whether this is a new or early stage idea or an existing technology from another industry which will improve the energy supply process. We are looking for products that will help manage demand, and encourage more efficient use of energy in the home and workplace.”

The UK power industries operate power networks currently invest £1.5 billion each year on maintaining and growing the 500,000 miles of cable needed to deliver electricity to UK homes. This network will need to be updated in future as the stream of energy changes from a single flow from a centralised generation, to more localised production, such as microgeneration.

Mark Mathieson, Managing Director of networks at Scottish and Southern Energy, explained: “The low carbon agenda will change the way we buy and procure energy from the model we’re used to. Not a lot has changed since the 1930s but we as we move towards the likes of wind generation, electric cars, PV systems we’re looking at a more intermittent and complex mix of energy generation and use. The flows of energy will be completely different to what we’re used to and we need to manage the new constraints. Fault detection and resolution will also become increasingly complex.

 “Energy companies want to avoid digging up the UK’s footpaths to lay bigger cables to accommodate the increased demand so we’re turning to innovation to help us look at new ways of tackling this. The Energy Innovation Centre plays a vital role in allowing people and businesses with good ideas to quickly interact with the industry.”

Since its launch in 2008, the Energy Innovation Centre has provided business support to over 140 SMEs, start-ups and inventors from the UK and on an international scale.