• SGN Press release


    Spotlight on innovation as we celebrate Ofgem project funding and join industry leading event to discuss gas network future


    6 December 2017 


     Street robotics in action on George Street in Edinburgh 


    The future of the UK’s energy networks is being showcased this week at the industry’s biggest annual innovation event, which is sponsored by SGN. 

    Hundreds of delegates are expected at the Low Carbon Network Innovation (LCNI) Conference in Telford. 

    The conference is held by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) on behalf of the UK electricity and gas network operators.

    The 2017 conference is providing an opportunity to explore the key learnings from electricity and gas network innovation projects. The programme will provide networking opportunities in addition to project focused presentations and workshops.

    The conference began today with SGN colleagues attending to share insights with the industry about how we’re planning for the future of the gas network. As well as being an event sponsor, we are participating in several panels and break-out sessions across two days. 

    A key topic for discussion by us is our 100% hydrogen project which is assessing the viability of constructing and operating the first hydrogen distribution network in Scotland.

    We are providing a high level overview of the project, discussing some of the risks and benefits associated with H2 networks, and then describing our project in detail.

    Also on the agenda is a focus on our robotics technology, which will use advanced robotics and artificial intelligence to lower the cost and improve the efficiency, safety and environmental impact of utility excavations and activity. Other subjects include our real-time networks and smart paints projects.

    Our support for the industry-leading conference comes just days after Ofgem announced the winners of its annual Network Innovation Competition (NIC).

    Our project to develop a new Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES) has been awarded £6.3m in NIC funding, building on our past robotics successes.

    Innovation and New Technology Manager Gus McIntosh said: “I’m delighted we’ve been awarded another NIC project. Excavation and reinstatement is an everyday activity for our teams, both in urban and rural environments.

    “The RRES project will see us develop a robotic solution to improve the safety and efficiency of our works, as well as the impact we have in the busiest streets.”

    Each year network companies compete for funding for the development and demonstration of new technologies, operating and commercial arrangements which have the potential to benefit consumers.

    Ofgem are providing up to £57.5m to seven projects this year.

    The expert panel was impressed with our bid, stating: “The panel considers RRES has the potential to provide significant environmental and financial benefits to gas consumers by reducing the time needed for street works.”

    CEO John Morea said: "Well done to our Innovation team. You’ve heard of autonomous cars, well this is the gas version - lots of sensors and soft touch tech to be developed with our partner ULC over the next three years. 

    “We’re also in a consortium that’s looking at the feasibility of hydrogen as an alternative fuel for heating. That project won just under £9m.”

    You can see how Ofgem reached its decision and find out what each gas and electricity network company has been awarded here.