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12 Oct 2010 02:10:34


Call for Energy Innovators 2010
A group of the UK’s leading energy firms are inviting inventors to come forward with their ideas for making the power networks more efficient.

Funding and product testing support is available to assist innovators developing these products and services.

Today sees the launch of the ‘Call for Energy Innovators 2010’, a new initiative between the world-class Energy Innovation Centre and distribution network operators CE Electric UK, Electricity North West, ScottishPower Energy Networks and Scottish & Southern Energy, to seek out technologies and processes with the potential to revolutionise existing power networks.

With rising energy demand and ambitious decarbonising targets innovation has an increasingly important role to play in enhancing the way power is transported, monitored and stored.

Clive Deadman, an industry expert and Chairman of the Energy Innovation Centre’s Investment Forum, predicts this emerging market for innovative energy related products and services will be worth over £1Billion per year in the UK alone by 2016 – and generate numerous exporting opportunities as other countries adopt these new ways of running electricity networks.

Distribution network operators (DNOs) already invest many hundreds of millions of pounds annually into improving their networks and recognise the value cutting-edge technology has to play.

Examples of recent technologies implemented within the industry include the “Cable Sniffer”, a handheld device that locates underground cable faults by detecting specific gases, developed by international firm EA Technology, and a smart grid compatible platform from Irish company FMC-Tech, which uses line mounted sensors and associated technology to rapidly detect faults and increase the capacity of conductors.

The ‘Call for Energy Innovators 2010’ is being led by the Energy Innovation Centre, a specialist business incubator dedicated to fostering innovation and accelerating cutting-edge energy products to market.

Denise Massey, Director of the Energy Innovation Centre, said: “The message is clear. If you’ve developed a new piece of equipment which may be used in the power networks or have worked in the sector and spotted an opportunity, we want to hear from you. The ‘Call for Energy Innovators 2010’ is a great opportunity for innovators to get their ideas before the decision makers and make a real difference to future energy provision in the UK and beyond.”

The ‘Call for Energy Innovators 2010’ is open to both early stage development and existing technologies with the potential for deployment within the energy industry.
It could even be a technology which is already operational in another industry, such as telecoms or retail.

Lawrence Fletcher, Head of Performance and Innovation for CE Electric UK, said: “The Call for Energy Innovators 2010 is a great way to link ‘know-how’ with ‘know-whom’. It provides an excellent platform in which innovators or SMEs to can bring their innovations, possibly from outside the traditional boundaries of the electricity distribution industry, to fruition and optimise their commercial opportunities.”

Mike Kay, Network Strategy Director at Electricity North West, added: “The industry is facing its biggest change in 50 years as we prepare the way for the low carbon economy and innovation will be a key enabler of this change. The Energy Innovation Centre is fast developing a reputation for being able to provide a range of enabling services for innovators and Electricity North West is pleased to be part of the Call for Energy Innovators 2010.”

Mark Mathieson, Director of Power Systems at Scottish & Southern Energy, said: “We are delighted to launch the Call for Energy Innovators 2010. Innovation will be key to tackling the impact on our infrastructure from the Low Carbon Agenda. We know marrying innovators to perspective end users can be difficult and frustrating - but the Energy Innovation Centre is that conduit. It provides the outlet for innovators to champion their ideas, and end users the ability to quickly appraise potential ideas and identify projects, providing a win-win to both groups."

Diyar Kadar, Technology Manager at ScottishPower Energy Networks, added: “With the speed of change in our energy supply chain and environmental targets we will see innovation playing a vital role in developing our electricity network to facilitate the introduction of renewable and smart grid technologies. The Energy Innovation Centre provides an ideal platform for DNOs and technology providers to collaborate on projects that will benefit industry and customers. Taking into account that what we invest in today in our electricity infrastructure will probably need to last for 40 to 50 years, we intend to intensify and diversify our efforts in innovation to ensure we meet our future environmental and network challenges.”

Distribution network operators have a number of roles including maintaining the performance and safe condition of the networks, restoring supply quickly should a fault occur, operating telephone systems in relation to network faults and providing new connections to the network.

Since its launch in 2008 the Cheshire-based Energy Innovation Centre has provided business support to over 140 SMEs, start-ups and inventors from the UK and internationally. The Centre offers a complete range of services including product development, funding assistance, business support and access to power experts, and is committed to turning energy saving ideas into commercial reality.

The centre has been highlighted as Best Practice and there is now international interest in replicating the Energy Innovation Centre business model.

For more information about the ‘Call for Energy Innovators 2010’ call 0151 347 2433 or visit www.energyinnovationcentre.com

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