SSEN Transmission welcomes green light for ground-breaking net zero innovation projects

SSEN Transmission welcomes the green light to progress all three of its projects submitted to the Discovery Round 2 stage of Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).

The Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) is designed to drive the innovation needed to transform gas and electricity networks for a low-carbon future. The fund seeks to identify and fund ambitious, innovative projects which can help shape the future of the energy networks and accelerate the transition to net zero, at the lowest cost to consumers.The Ofgem initiative aspires to help transform the UK into the ‘Silicon Valley’ of energy, making it the best place to be an energy consumer and an energy entrepreneur. The SIF fund aligns closely with SSEN Transmission’s own pioneering and bold commitment to deliver a network for net zero through a whole system approach.

Delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, the SIF programme taps into the best of UK and international innovation whilst aligning with other public innovation funding for the benefit of network users and consumers. The fund was launched in 2021 and is expected to invest £450 million in innovative solutions for net-zero by 2026.

The projects, which were initially submitted to Ofgem in November 2022, are split into three phases beginning with the Discovery Phase, which last up to 3 months and aims to de-risk technical uncertainties to pave the way for the progressively larger next phases; Alpha, and Beta. The subsequent phases will progress the technology further up the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and towards implementation.

The fund aims to be truly collaborative across the energy sector, with all the learnings from the SIF programme being shared to help create innovative projects with the potential to accelerate the transition to net zero.

SSEN Transmission has been successful in securing three projects which are aimed at tackling some of the energy industry’s biggest challenges; providing strategic insight to help inform network design, early identification of grid connection alternatives, and ensuring greater supply chain resilience:

INSIGHT (Innovative Network Status Intelligence Gathered by Holistic use of Telemetry and Simulation) this project aims to deliver a virtual, real-time alert and control system that can monitor and mitigate different types of oscillation events experienced on the networks. It will combine experience and learnings from past events with new modelling and simulation techniques to better understand the nature of these new oscillations; how to predict them and how to address them in network design and operation for future events.

REACT (Rapid Evaluation Area Connection Tool) this project plans to create a geographical planning tool that can be used across the industry to provide a dynamic view of all future connection requests. The tool will utilise SSEN Transmission's modelling data, which will approximate the grid impact of a connection prior to making an application, combined with using a spatial planning tool which will incorporate the current and future power and gas infrastructure to enable users to identify alternative grid connections.

SECURE (Securing the future delivery of all HVDC projects by de-risking the HVDC cable supply chain) this project will employ cutting edge digital solutions and develop an innovative Digital Supply Chain Hub (DSCH) to achieve much greater visibility and knowledge of the HVDC cable supply chain. This will yield benefits to HVDC project developers and suppliers ensuring greater supply chain resilience and strategic insight. This builds on best practices from the development of DSCHs in other sectors.
Simon Stromberg, Project Manager at SSEN Transmission, said: “We are delighted to receive funding for another three projects from the Strategic Innovation Fund.

“The task ahead of us is a significant one, and only through strategic thinking, innovation and collaborative working will we be able to create the GB grid required to enable the UK to reach its renewable energy and climate change ambitions. This funding is pivotal in providing the much-needed investment to find new ways of working, which will propel us forward and help us to deliver a network for net zero.

“As transmission network owner in the north of Scotland, our network region is home to some of the UK’s greatest renewable energy resources, giving us a central role in the meeting UK net zero targets. That is why it is important to us to take every opportunity to push innovation and to be constantly challenging today’s system, so that we create a whole system fit for the future.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with our project partners and developing our proposals further in Ofgem’s SIF scheme, as we work to deliver an innovative future network in the north of Scotland and connect the renewable energy needed for a resilient, low carbon future.”

In addition to the projects SSEN Transmission is leading, they will also support Scottish Power Energy Networks and National Grid Electricity Transmission with three further projects which were also successful on reaching the SIF Discovery stage:

  • Project BLADE (Black start Demonstrator from offshore wind) led by SP Energy Networks, is working to bring electricity system restoration from offshore wind to commercial reality by building the necessary cross-industry understanding.
  • National Grid Electricity Transmission’s project SF-6, seeks to develop a replacement strategy for SF-6 (Sulphur Hexafluoride) that will support Great Britain’s ambition to facilitate a net-zero resilient energy system.
  • Scenarios for Extreme Events, led by National Grid System Operator, seeks to develop a proactive approach to identifying and analysing extreme, unexpected events, and forecasting their impact on the electricity grid and wider energy system. Novel use of probabilistic modelling combined with insights from risk management, insurance costing and climate modelling experts will be used to develop a decision-making tool to improve whole system resilience in a rapidly changing world.

These projects are funded by network users and consumers under the Strategic Innovation Fund, an Ofgem programme managed in partnership with Innovate UK.

The next few months will be busy for SSEN Transmission’s Whole System team as work gets underway on the projects on 3rd April 2023. The discovery stage of these projects is set be completed by the end of June 2023.