£400k for National Grid innovation projects as part of Ofgem fund to help shape Britain’s net zero transition

Research into state-of-the-art monitoring systems for offshore cables and an initiative to support the decarbonisation of rural areas are among the National Grid-led innovation projects to be funded through the latest stage of Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).

Three projects across National Grid’s electricity transmission and distribution networks have secured almost £400,000 to fund feasibility studies as part of the SIF’s discovery phase, which backs the most promising innovations that could accelerate the net zero transition.

National Grid Electricity Transmission (ET) has been awarded £135,000 for one project – HIRE – that will research new ways to monitor the health of cables in future hybrid AC/DC networks, with a view to spotting issues in offshore links earlier and avoiding unplanned outages.

The project could come up with a new system to overcome current monitoring limitations associated with longer HVDC cable routes, boosting network reliability and ensuring maximum use of clean energy as grids become more and more interconnected using HVDC technology.

National Grid ET will also be collaborating on several other partner-led SIF-funded initiatives, notably with the electricity system operator (ESO) on a £150,000 project to create a model to help better understand the impact of future energy scenarios on the system.

Sean Coleman, Strategic Innovation Fund Manager at National Grid ET, said:

“These projects across our networks are exciting additions to National Grid’s wide-ranging innovation portfolio, and are great examples of how we’re thinking ambitiously and collaborating with partners across industry to support Britain’s net zero transition, while keeping costs down for consumers.”

National Grid Electricity Distribution (ED) has been awarded almost £260,000 for two projects.

The Rural Energy and Community Heat (REACH) project aims to help rural communities decarbonise quicker. Funding worth nearly £117,000 will enable ED to initially understand the priorities of community energy groups and also develop practical solutions so they can access low carbon technologies more quickly than alternative means. 

The REACH team will work with innovative suppliers to develop shipping container-sized rural energy centres. These prefabricated units will contain standardised equipment that can be easily sited within communities to enable the connection of heat pumps, electric vehicle chargers and renewable generation.

ED’s Laurence Hunter, Innovation Engineer for REACH, said:

“The advantage of a modular rural energy centre is it can offer communities shared low-carbon heating, rapid EV charging and renewable generation in an area where otherwise they might have to wait for the network to be upgraded or where commercial markets may not serve customers. The modular approach has been used to charge electric vehicles and this funding will enable us to see if we can extend this concept and provide extra functionality.”

A second ED project, Road to Power, won more than £140,000 to look at how networks can support the street and roadworks sector and the use of electric equipment like excavators and pavers.

The project will assess forecast future consumption and explore different electrification pathways and infrastructure needs. It will then create online tools to help roadworks contractors obtain temporary grid connections while helping networks forecast the impact of temporary works on their infrastructure. 

Jenny Woodruff, National Grid Electricity Distribution’s Innovation Manager for the Midlands, said: 

“As well as empowering informed decision-making and ensuring a reliable energy supply for customers, the tools will support the sector’s transition to net zero emissions while maintaining efficient network operation and planning.”

The latest funding means National Grid ET and ED have successfully led 14 projects through the SIF programme – seven across each network – since the scheme started in 2021, with a total of £4 million worth of funding backing these net zero innovation initiatives.

National Grid’s networks currently have three innovation projects in the scheme’s alpha phase, having been funded to progress from the original discovery stage.


All projects are funded by network users and consumers under the SIF programme, which is managed by Ofgem in partnership with UKRI.

New energy projects received £5.8 million in total in the latest round of the SIF. Full details of the funding announcement can be found on the UKRI website.

SIF discovery phase project list

National Grid Electricity Transmission

Hybrid-Network Improvement & Reliability Enhancement (HIRE)

Researching new state-of-the-art condition monitoring to improve the commissioning and operation of offshore cables. This new, robust system will mitigate the risk of failure, overcome the limitations of existing techniques (e.g. cable length) and aid network operators in decision making for a more flexible grid. PROJECT PARTNERS: University of Manchester, DNV, Monitra, SSEN Transmission.

National Grid Electricity Distribution

Rural Energy And Community Heat (REACH)

Working with rural community energy groups to develop a modular rural energy centre that will help communities make cost effective decarbonisation plans. The solution will offer shared low carbon heating, rapid EV charging, and renewable generation in areas not served by commercial markets, and where there is limited electricity network capacity.

Road to Power

Developing specific tools to forecast future energy consumption and infrastructural impact of works, to support the street and road works sector as it decarbonises 7.8TWh of energy demand across 700,000 major works in the sector’s pivotal transition to net zero by 2030.

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