SIF’s new challenges: heat flexibility, network development, Net Zero

Ofgem and Innovate UK have announced four challenges to be addressed in the fourth round of the industry’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).
The round four challenges provide a focus for participating innovators and networks to develop new products, processes or services that will save consumers money, reduce carbon emissions and improve access to renewable energy.

Faster network development
Challenge areas in scope include:
• accelerating the pace of network development to meet net zero
• developing new solutions to help increase operational capacity from transmission and distribution networks
• effective integration and utilisation of regional energy systems
This includes leveraging digital advancements such as artificial intelligence to better manage power flows and supporting more real time and dynamic operation of the system.
Greater heat flexibility.
Challenge areas in scope include:
• increasing development and use of flexibility for network and system benefit
• novel flexibility solutions to manage and mitigate system challenges, such as peak demand increase from heat decarbonisation.
This includes technologies such as thermal energy storage to help decouple electricity consumption and heat supplied from intermittent generation. Additionally, network planning, connection processes and distribution system operator service parameters to incentivise the uptake and use of these technologies are within the scope of this challenge.
Embedding resilience:
• preparing future energy networks to be resilient
• developing effective solutions for the large section of consumers in rural locations, and the challenge faced in decarbonising their heat and transport considering current fuel use, income levels, fabric efficiency and grid capacity access
• generating learnings and innovative solutions to transition the energy system in a resilient manner under falling natural gas demand
This includes approaches to better determine risk and opportunities from a gas infrastructure perspective, with high future uncertainty, and considering options that best deliver consumer value, system security and support net zero goals.
Towards net zero energy networks
Challenge areas in scope include:
• developing an efficient net zero energy system
• developing novel solutions to improve understanding of and reduce growing losses in the power system which lead to significant wastage of cost, energy, and carbon
With increasing losses, more electricity will need to be generated and consumed, which would lead to increased costs to the consumer.
Interested parties should in the first instance complete an ‘expression of interest’ form, here

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