The Energy Innovation Centre has access to £36m of funding for innovators and companies looking to bring new ideas into the energy market. This funding originates from Ofgem’s Innovation Stimulus programme which aims to encourage the electricity and gas network operators to innovate as part of business as usual.
EIC is a not for profit partnership between Electricity North West, National Grid, Northern Gas Networks, Northern Powergrid, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, Scotia Gas Networks, SP Energy Networks, SSE Power Distribution, UK Power Networks and Wales & West Utilities. It also has a number of affiliate partners with links into the energy sector.
By leveraging its relationships with partners from across the gas, electricity and offshore renewables sectors, EIC is a gateway to industry expertise and funding for innovative individuals and companies offering:
- Industry advice and expertise to validate technologies.
- Acceleration into new applications and markets.
- Access to a real field test environment.
- Support to raise funding.
- Access to professional, academic and industry networks.
- Greater credibility for companies and products supported which in turn increases company value.
Key types of Investment funding available:
Innovation Funding Incentive (IFI)
The Innovation Funding Incentive (IFI) scheme is a mechanism introduced by energy regulator Ofgem to encourage energy network operators to invest in appropriate research and development activities that focus on the technical aspects of network design, operation and maintenance. IFI funding can be used to develop or evaluate innovations to understand network benefit. This can be in the form of testing out concepts, conducting a trial or demonstration or developing a prototype. It won’t fund the production of an innovation or commercial or marketing costs. IFI funded projects can range from a few thousand pounds up to several hundred thousand. Please see the industry problem statements to see a range of the sorts of innovations the network companies are seeking in this for this funding.
Low Carbon Network Fund (LCNF)
The Low Carbon Networks Fund (LCNF) was introduced by Ofgem to allow up to £500m support to projects sponsored by Distribution Networks Operators (DNOs) to try out new technology, operating and commercial arrangements. The objective of the projects is to help all DNOs understand what they need to do to provide security of supply and value for money as Great Britain moves to a low carbon economy.
LCNF has two tiers:
- Tier 1 is similar to IFI and is designed to enable DNOs to recover a proportion of expenditure incurred on small scale projects.
- For Tier 2, Ofgem facilitates an annual competition for an allocation of up to £64million to help fund a small number of flagship projects. Four projects were awarded in 2010/2011 totalling £63.6million.
These projects involve the DNOs partnering with suppliers, generators, technology providers and other parties to explore how networks can facilitate the take up of low carbon and energy saving initiatives such as electric vehicles, heat pumps, micro and local generation and demand side management, as well as investigating the opportunities that smart meter roll out provide to network companies.
Network Innovation Stimulus
As part of its Innovation Stimulus programme, Ofgem has introduced the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) and Network Innovation Competitions (NIC) from 2013. These two schemes will replace the Innovation Funding Incentive (IFI), and will mimic the structure of the Low Carbon Network Fund which consists of a First Tier allowance and a Second Tier annual competition for funding. NIA is a set allowance that each of the network operators will receive to fund small-scale innovation projects. NIC is a series of annual competitions for electricity and gas, where network companies compete for funding for research, development and trialling for new technology, operating and commercial arrangements. Funding will be provided for the best innovation projects which help all network operators understand what they need to do to provide environmental benefits and security of supply at value for money as the UK moves to a low carbon economy. There will be two NICs; the gas NIC will be for projects related to gas transmission and distribution, whereas the electricity NIC will only be for projects related to electricity transmission. At the end of 2015 the Low Carbon Network Fund will be folded into the electricity NIC and it will fund projects for electricity transmission and distribution.
Regardless of which energy sector your idea or expertise falls into, the EIC can support and guide you through the application process and help you to get the funding you need to take it to the next stage.
For further information on funding and support for your technology development or transfer to the energy industry talk to us on 0151 348 8040 or visit www.energyinnovationcentre.com.