ENA targets whole systems approach to innovation in new strategies

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has published a new whole systems innovation strategy, alongside updated innovation strategies for gas and electricity networks.

Published on 31 March, the strategies, assembled over six months of stakeholder engagement, identify five key areas to prioritise: consumer vulnerability, net zero and the energy transition, optimised assets and practices, flexibility and commercial innovation, and the whole energy system. A whole system approach to innovation was cited as key and led to the release of the new, third innovation strategy.

The three strategies are based on key principles so that projects deliver a lasting, wider impact to everyone, such as delivering customer benefits, delivering a carbon impact and providing opportunities for collaboration. For the latter, the ENA set out how projects should deliver shared learning and increase collaboration between network companies and the wider energy sector. The other principles included are using data and inputs, with the lessons of all network innovation activity made available in a “consistent and accessible” format to all, and delivering scale and roll-out. Here, innovation activity should deliver transformational change, identifying methods to scale up and roll out new practices, processes and technologies.

David Smith, Chief Executive of ENA, said: “From connecting ever greater levels of renewable energy to finding the new solutions we need for decarbonising heat and transport; our energy network infrastructure is already at the centre of delivering a world leading Net Zero economy. That role is set to grow, as that infrastructure takes on new responsibilities to deliver decarbonisation. We need to ensure our network infrastructure is future-ready, that our approach is transparent and accountable and that it is focussed as much on local needs as it is on national ones. The five principles set out in these strategies set out just how network innovation will do that.”