Making the Connection: Bringing Together Entrepreneurs and Utilities to Advance Clean Technologies

Utilities-Entrepreneurs

[Today’s guest post comes from Neil Hughes at National Grid. Neal leads National Grid’s technology strategy within the Group Strategy function, evaluating business opportunities and challenges offered by emerging transformational type technologies; developing strategies, plans, and partnerships for implementation. He also coordinates R&D activities across global operations.]

At National Grid, we’re committed to continuously improving the efficiency and reliability of the grid, while safeguarding the environment and keeping costs as low as possible for our customers. To support this, we’re leading the way in exploring and developing new technologies.

Our interests range from identifying and deploying smart grid technologies through to the production and injection of biogas into our gas networks. Given the range of our activities, our technology programs are vast, at every point in the electricity and gas delivery networks there are real opportunities for innovative solutions to deliver low carbon energy.

Some of our priority technology areas include: Smart grid (smart meters, distribution automation, home automation), energy efficiency, electric transportation, energy storage, renewable gas, HVDC, carbon capture and storage, distributed generation, to name just a few! We have many innovative projects and technology demonstrations underway, but there’s much more to do if we are to meet the goals we have set ourselves.

Critical to meeting the challenges we have in these areas is finding and adopting promising new technologies. We are doing all we can to help start-ups and entrepreneurs understand our business model and strategy; we won’t be successful as a business without great innovation coming through the ecosystem.

We sponsor the Utility Technology Challenge because this is a great way for us to learn about promising and exciting new technologies, engage with new companies and communicate our business and technology challenges.

This year, I’m really excited about the new pool of $100,000 in funding for pilot studies to be awarded to the winners of the competition. These pilot studies will enable real-world testing of a select few technologies that will hopefully provide the platform for further deployment. I’ve worked with both CTSI and Fraunhofer, I know the passion these two organisations have for enabling technologies for a low carbon future, I’m pleased they have come together for this year’s challenge, they make a powerful partnership.

We encourage companies with pilot-ready or early commercial-stage technologies to apply to the Utility Technology Challenge, and I look forward to seeing many of you at the Cleantech Conference & Expo 2012 in June!

About author
I'm CSE's former Director of Marketing and Communications. During my time at the Center, I launched the Cleantech Notes blog.
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