Ofgem Strategic Innovation Fund announces challenge areas for second round of funding, to help accelerate the transition to net zero

Ofgem and Innovate UK have announced the challenge areas for the second round of innovation funding under the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), which opens for applications in early September 2022.

The SIF aims to find and fund ambitious, innovative projects with the potential to accelerate the energy transition to net zero at the lowest cost to consumers. Now four innovation challenge areas have been identified as the priorities that this year’s project proposals should address.

Chosen in consultation with the energy industry and consumers, the four challenge areas, which incorporate a focus on transport, heat, data and integration across the whole gas and electricity system, are:

  • Supporting a just energy transition – including new ways to identify and support vulnerable customers, and help those who are disadvantaged, fuel poor or off the gas grid to reduce heat and mobility carbon emissions
  • Preparing for a net zero power system – including new ways to support low-stability systems, and to use new sources of energy supply and demand to help manage grids
  • Improving energy system resilience and robustness – including ways to develop multi-energy systems and make them more resilient, and strengthening energy system robustness so that new infrastructure can be rolled out efficiently
  • Accelerating decarbonisation of major energy demands – such as ways to manage and integrate large-scale demands from heat and transport, integrating heat networks for wider energy network management, and improving energy efficiency at all levels in the system.

Now the challenge areas have been identified, the programme will open an initial ‘discovery’ phase, whereby innovators working with energy companies can apply for £150,000 to further develop their ideas.

After the discovery phase, those projects judged to have the greatest potential will be awarded up to £500,000 to further develop their ideas. Another selection process will follow, with successful projects receiving more funding and able to carry out large-scale demonstrations of their technologies. The aim is to develop innovations which can be rolled out across all UK energy networks, making them fit for the future and delivering benefits for both consumers and the planet.

SIF is a five-year programme with up to £450 million available to promote energy network innovation.

A launch webinar on 25 May 2022 will explain more. Innovators wanting to partner on projects can sign up on the registration page.

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