Ofgem launches new service spurring innovation in energy

UK energy regulator Ofgem has launched a new service to support businesses seeking to offer novel products and services in the energy sector.

The new service, Innovation Link, will provide fast, frank feedback to innovators and help them navigate the regulatory framework, says Ofgem. The regulator adds that the service will enable innovators to make more informed choices when developing their products, services and business models. It is available to anyone with an innovative business proposition that has the potential to benefit consumers.

A release notes that “as the energy system transforms with new technology, the number of new players in the market is set to increase dramatically. These people or organisations may not be familiar with energy market rules or where to go for help.”

Piloting new products or services

Ofgem said that the Innovation Link will also bring forward proposals in spring 2017 for a regulatory “sandbox”. These will let innovators trial promising new products or services in a controlled regulatory environment, while ensuring that the interests of customers are met. This will help innovators decide if their idea is viable. [Ofgem commits £44.6m for utility smart grid pilots]

Richard Stobart from Char.gy, a company developing charging stations for electric cars, said: “This service will make a real difference to those who are enthusiastic about bringing new ideas to the energy landscape but need a bit of support in navigating the regulatory framework. The Link has so far provided useful information to Char.gy, and I hope it will continue to provide great help to innovators in the future.”

Charlie Quigley from Youtility, a new entrant in the sector, said: “The Innovation Link service will make a real difference to those who are enthusiastic to bring new and dynamic ideas to the energy landscape but need support in navigating the regulatory framework. The Link has so far provided us with a great deal of useful information and we believe it will continue to offer much needed assistance to innovators in the future.”

Mark Thompson, Energy Systems lead at Innovate UK, said: “This is a great move by Ofgem and we’re really pleased that they are pushing this forward. The innovation space in the energy sector is in a unique and exciting time with creativity in such business models and customer engagement being as important, if not more important than “technology”. The link will add real value to innovators navigating the terrain, and Innovate UK looks forward to working closely with it in the years ahead.”

Martin Crouch, senior partner at Ofgem, commented: “Ofgem continues to look forward and consider what regulatory innovation is needed to meet the challenges of the future. The Innovation Link is a practical way for people to ask for our help in navigating the regulatory framework.”