National Grid Electricity Distribution is leading an innovation project aimed at accelerating decarbonisation of major energy demands as part of Ofgem’s £450m Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).
Project PRIDE (Planning Regional Infrastructure in a Digital Environment), which includes consortium partners Advanced Infrastructure and West Midlands Combined Authority, aims to improve decision-making on energy infrastructure by bringing together key stakeholders and relevant datasets in a virtual environment.
The objective of PRIDE is to demonstrate the role of the Regional System Planner, recently highlighted in Ofgem’s consultation on the future of local energy institutions and governance (March 2023). This also emerged from the recent RESO (Regional Energy Systems Operator) project, part of the Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme delivered by Innovate UK, which highlighted the benefits of creating a digital twin including a variety of infrastructure information with supporting decision-making models.
The project aims to investigate how a digital twin, incorporating regional infrastructure for electricity, gas, heat, transport, water and telecoms (together with a detailed view of buildings and demographics of their occupants) can enable the various parties involved in a Regional System Planner to make better decisions when planning the investment required to decarbonise major elements of demand.
PRIDE seeks to support the transformation of how the energy system is planned and operated at a local level in order to support the transition to net zero on a national scale.
The discovery phase of the project will investigate the range of use cases and governance structures of a virtual Regional System Planner and the additional datasets and models required to answer these questions.
Project partner Advanced Infrastructure, a company that develops and provides spatial analytics and digital twins for the energy transition, is facilitating the feasibility study by exploring how digital tools such as a Local Area Energy Planning tool (LAEP+) can help organisations develop their net zero plans.
The RESO project suggested that better regional planning can deliver the net present value of more than £700 million over 30 years from optimising investments and development of local markets. However, the outcomes suggested by RESO are far wider and include a reduction of fuel and energy costs as well as helping to ensure that vulnerable customers are not left behind in the net zero transition. PRIDE aims to help improve regional planning to unlock some of that value.
The project is funded by energy network users and consumers through the Strategic Innovation Fund, a programme funded by the UK’s independent energy regulator Ofgem, managed in partnership with Innovate UK.
The purpose of Ofgem’s Strategic Innovation Fund is to support network innovation that will contribute to achieving net zero rapidly and at lowest cost; deliver real net benefits to network companies, energy users and consumers; and help the UK to become a ‘Silicon Valley’ of energy. It aims to work with other public funders of innovation to ensure that activities appropriately funded by energy users and consumers are coordinated with activities funded by the UK Government.
Jenny Woodruff, Innovation Team Manager at National Grid Electricity Distribution, said:
“We are thrilled that all our project applications were approved as this is our first experience of SIF. We are also excited to be working with new project partners which often brings new insights.
“The discovery phase will allow us to test key assumptions and carry out the early work necessary to firm up our plans for the alpha and beta SIF phases where we can develop the initial ideas into prototypes and full-scale trials.”
CEO and Co Founder of Advanced Infrastructure, Christopher Jackson commented:
“We’re delighted National Grid Electricity Distribution’s SIF application was given the green light and we are delighted to now be working together with our project partners on a shared journey to ultimately accelerate the reduction of fuel and energy costs in the West Midlands area.
“Project PRIDE has the ability to provide critical insight and research to help inform the future development of a net zero energy system whilst at the same time delivering significant benefits to consumers.”
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