UK energy regulator launches 450 million stg grid innovation fund

FILE PHOTO: The sun rises behind electricity pylons near Chester

(Reuters) - British energy regulator Ofgem will offer 450 million pounds ($619 million) in funding over the next five years to promote green innovation across gas and electricity networks and keep energy bills low, it said on Tuesday.

The money will be available to network companies, system operators, businesses and researchers to drive "big, bold and ambitious" ideas that accelerate the transition to an emissions-free energy system and help position Britain as a world leader in energy innovation, Ofgem said.

Funding could be increased if needed, it added.

"What we need more than ever to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero is innovation," Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said.

Ideas should have the potential to scale across the networks and focus on system integration, data and digitalisation, heat and transport, such as heat pump roll-outs, or new technologies to integrate flexible energy solutions, such as battery storage, Ofgem said.

"The Strategic Innovation Fund will ensure the best projects and most talented minds have the grants available to reduce carbon emissions and enable bill payers to see the benefits of building back greener," said Martin Callanan, energy minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy (BEIS).

($1 = 0.7267 pounds)

(Reporting by Nora Buli in Oslo; Editing by Mark Potter)