SSEN comes out top in Ofgem First Tier Discretionary Award

Andrew Roper, Director of Engineering and Investment with innovation board

Image caption: Andrew Roper, Director of Engineering and Investment at SSEN alongside a visual board showing the benefit of SSEN's innovation projects to Great Britain.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has been awarded £2m as a discretionary award from Ofgem – the highest amount awarded to any Distribution Network Operator (DNO) group – for its Tier 1 innovation projects.

The award was based on the performance of SSEN’s portfolio of innovation projects under Low Carbon Networks (LCN) funding between 2010 and 2015.

The LCN Fund allowed up to £500m to support projects sponsored by DNOs to try out new technology, operating and commercial arrangements. The aim of the projects is to help all DNOs understand how they can provide security of supply at value for money as the country moves to a low carbon economy.

SSEN completed ten projects in the Tier 1 portfolio which provided valuable learning for:

  • Energy Storage
  • Demand Side Management
  • Active Network Management
  • Constraint Managed Zones
  • LV Strategy

The total cost of the SSEN portfolio was £4.092m which included projects like the Shetland Battery and Low Voltage Network Modelling which de-risked larger projects like Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) and New Thames Valley Vision (NTVV).

Colin Nicol, Managing Director of SSEN, said: "At SSEN we take pride in the quality of our innovation portfolio. The exceptional learning from our projects will deliver significant benefits for customers, and enabled us to lead the industry in the development and implementation of a broad range of innovations into our Business as Usual (BAU) activities.

“Our Tier 1 portfolio has been crucially important to this success, and has directly led to the implementation of pioneering initiatives such as Active Network Management (ANM) and Constraint Managed Zones (CMZ). The learning outcomes have also helped prepare SSEN, other DNOs and the wider industry to become better prepared for the transition to Distribution System Operator model, and facilitate the growth in Distributed Generation.”

Feedback from the regulator mentioned SSEN’s focus on the need to move towards a Distribution System Operator (DSO) model, moving from pure technological solutions such as batteries to a greater understanding of Demand Side Management and the development of commercial solutions such as Constraint Managed Zones (CMZ). Ofgem highlighted SSEN’s portfolio as being incrementally built on the foundations of previous projects with a focus to ensuring the results of its work were fully disseminated to the wider industry.

The Panel considered SSEN’s Tier 1 projects as having made a significant contribution to the Carbon Plan and would create considerable financial benefits to customers.

Throughout the development and delivery of its Tier 1 portfolio, SSEN has maintained a number of central principles:

• Broad stakeholder engagement and horizon scanning;

• Maintaining a broad portfolio of projects;

• Identifying focus areas to achieve BAU transition and seeking early deployment opportunities;

• Recognising the value of fast following;

• Driving collaboration with key stakeholders; and

• Recognising that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

For more information on innovation at SSEN, visit

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Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.7 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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