Next step towards unlocking new innovations reached as three SSEN Transmission projects move to next stage in Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund programme


  • Three SSEN Transmission project submissions move to ‘Discovery’ phase of Ofgem SIF scheme


Three SSEN Transmission led projects exploring innovation in the electricity transmission network have been given the green light from Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) programme to move to the next stage in development.

The three projects will provide critical learnings to help inform the future development of the energy system, with two of the projects key to exploring ways to enable the transition to a low carbon economy, helping deliver a network for net zero emissions. 

Proposals were submitted to Ofgem in November 2021 as part of the SIF, a scheme to help stimulate innovation that can help transform the UK’s energy systems in line with net zero targets in the coming years.

Last week Ofgem announced projects which have been successful in progressing to the first round of funding, known as the ‘Discovery’ stage, with all three SSEN Transmission projects successfully receiving the green light for £150K of funding for this phase.  All projects are funded by network users and consumers under the Strategic Innovation Fund, an Ofgem programme managed in partnership with UKRI.

Teams will now be given two months to progress developments in the project proposals and explore the innovations further.

The three projects – known as Network DC, Project NIMBUS and Project Incentive - include technology aimed at developing new innovative methods to build resilience and improve network reliability.

  • Network DC: Enabling installation of the offshore wind capacity required for net zero

Offshore wind will play a leading role in the transition to net zero, with as much as 100GW required to deliver 2050 net zero targets.  This will require the development of HVDC grids to connect and transport offshore wind from source, increasingly further offshore, to areas of demand. 

To support the development of HVDC grids there is a need to demonstrate the capability of DC Circuit Breakers (DCCBs). Circuit breakers, which already exist on the onshore AC network, minimise the impact of faults, allowing power to keep flowing elsewhere on the network.

The Network DC project aims to advance the readiness of the technology for implementation on the GB system, to enable the development of offshore DC networks which cannot exist without DCCBs. 


  • Project NIMBUS: Enabling the transition to risk-based asset intervention

The impact of weather on all aspects of energy provision is well known, but weather data is currently generic and does not provide enough detail to assess the impact of weather on specific assets.

Network Innovation and Meteorology to Build for Sustainability – known as Project NIMBUS - will provide the capability to use high resolution weather and climate data to help accurately predict the impact of climate change on transmission assets over their life-time.

In turn, this will lead to improved intervention planning and asset protection, which could extend asset lives by 10 to 20 years. 


  • Project Incentive: Innovative control and energy storage for ancillary services in offshore wind

With the increasing capacity of offshore wind, innovation is required to facilitate the rapid roll-out of this intermittent generation to support grid balancing and address stability challenges. Without this, the GB grid will become weaker which will lead to issues in system operation including, increasing the likelihood of blackouts and maintaining reliance on fossil fuel generators.

Project Incentive will investigate new solutions to address this through demonstrating the use of innovative voltage, current and frequency control technologies coupled with energy storage at the point of onshore connection of offshore wind farms, to allow offshore wind farms to stabilise the onshore grid.


As successful recipients of the first phase from Ofgem’s SIF scheme, all three projects will receive up to £150,000 to carry out a two-month ‘discovery’ phase on their proposal to further explore their potential.  After this initial two-month phase the projects can apply for the second phase of development, with the potential to be awarded up to £500,000 to take the project forward to further phases.

A further two projects, supported by SSEN Transmission, were also successful on reaching the SIF Discovery stage.  The first project, known as Asset Reuse & Recovery Collaboration (ARRC), is supported by all UK Transmission Operators, with the aim being to develop and assess novel solutions to an industry wide problem of sustainably managing high value assets.  The second explores the use of Green Hydrogen Technology in the national gas grid, with SSEN Transmission supporting by examining the considerations of the electricity grid interface associated with Green hydrogen production. 

Andrew Urquhart, Head of Whole Systems at SSEN Transmission, said:  “We are delighted to receive the welcome news from Ofgem that our three project submissions have been given the green light to move to the first discovery phase.

“At SSEN Transmission our strategic objective is to enable the transition to the low carbon economy. The pathway to get there is full of uncertainty and that is where innovation is key - it allows us to find and prove new ways of working for the long-term benefits of our customers and ourselves.

“The Strategic Innovation Fund allows us to explore some of this uncertainty, to better understand the risks and associated issues, and to identify and prove potential solutions through collaboration with stakeholders and experts in the field.

“With the challenge of Net Zero ahead of us, we must continue to build upon and develop our culture of innovation to seek out new ways of doing what is needed.

“This is a really exciting time not just for SSEN Transmission but for the wider transmission network as a whole.   We look forward to developing our proposals further in Ofgem’s SIF scheme and designing innovative solutions to help create a network for net zero emissions.” 

All learnings from the SIF programme will be shared to help create innovative projects with the potential to accelerate the transition to net zero.

For more information about Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund scheme visit: Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) | Ofgem

To watch a short video clip outlining the three SIF projects from SSEN Transmission, visit these links: