Our progression of innovative trials helping speed up the UK's Net Zero ambitions

28/07/2022

We are realyl pleased to have been given the go ahead to progress with trials exploring thermal energy storage, hydrogen trains and forecasting the impact of extreme weather on the UK's electricity networks as the drive to Net Zero accelerates.

We have bene awarded £1.6million of additional funding to progress with three projects following the successful delivery of proposals under the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) - a funding mechanism launched in 2021 by energy industry regulator Ofgem and Innovate UK to fast-track ambitious projects with the potential to cut significant levels of carbon emissions. 

Our Heat Balance project will trial thermal storage and examine how it could be used to benefit the UK's electricity demand. Using advanced technology, such as inter-seasonal storage, the project will seek to identify methods that can be adapted for the UK's specific geology to ultimately reduce the overall cost of heating for customers. 

Separately, the Holistic Hydrogen Approach to Heavy Duty Transport (H2H) project aims to be a catalyst that will help the UK remove all diesel trains from the network by 2040. Working in partnership with Network Rail Scotland, we will pilot the use of green hydrogen, produced via renewable energy sources, to operate prototype hydrogen trains with the eventual aim of replacing diesel trains on rural routes by 2035. A second workstream will explore how the railway can better integrate power demand with the electricity distribution network through use of 'energy hubs'. 

Lastly the Predict4Resilience project will help us manage increasingly extreme UK weather and its impact on the electricity network. By using improved forecasting, it will develop a fault prediction tool based on anticipated weather conditions - enabling our operational teams to predict issues before they happen and to respond quicker. This will not only strengthen the resilience of the network but will reduce the length of time customers are off supply when a fault has occurred. 

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Graham Campbell, our Director of Processes and Technology, said: "We are delighted to have been given the green light to progress our Strategic Innovation Fund proposals further, which clearly shows confidence in the potential of those projects to help the UK meet its ambitious Net Zero targets. 

"We're proud to be leading innovation across the industry, and to be driving initiatives forward on the decarbonisation of heat and transport in particular, which we know form a large part of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our focus continues to be on developing solutions that not only help us reduce emissions, but which also improve access to energy markets, help modernise our processes or services, and ultimately enable us to maintain a safe and reliable electricity network for our customers and communities, whilst keeping costs low." 

Alan Ross, Director of Engineering and Asset Management at Network Rail Scotland, said: "Establishing this strategic partnership with SP Energy Networks is critical to achieve our aim of decarbonising all passenger services on Scotland's Railway by 2035. By jointly exploring new technologies we hope to accelerate the removal of diesel traction from the railway and reduce our overall carbon footprint.

"Encouraging modal shift of people and goods from road to a decarbonised rail network is critical if Scotland, and the UK, are to meet their Net Zero obligations"

 

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