The UK Undertakes a Large-Scale Gas Network Assessment
Loughborough, UK, Oct. 16, 2014—The Energy Technologies Institute (“ETI”) has awarded a major contract to DNV GL to project manage its Gas Vector Transition Pathways Development Project.
Between now and 2050, the energy systems of the UK and Europe are likely to be transformed as we move towards a low carbon future. Although the future is often seen as one of increased electrification, at present in the UK gas networks carry over four times as much energy as electricity networks.
Gas networks have the potential to carry a wide range of new gases including hydrogen and bio-SNG. Additionally, the flexibility of gas in its various forms, allows for the development of a wide range of production and delivery pathways, all of which could contribute to a low carbon energy system of the future. The starting point for this research is four independent future scenarios, as defined and modelled by the ETI. Each of these scenarios takes a view of the future and the contribution of existing and new gases including bio-synthetic natural gas (SNG), Hydrogen and Natural Gas. These scenarios impose differing but significant changes on energy infrastructure and the transmission and distribution of the gases.
The project will seek to provide a better understanding of the implications and the challenges that may arise as a result of these major infrastructure transitions. It will help to determine how affordable the transitions could be. Building on this, and identifying potential solutions to any engineering challenges and implementation costs, will provide further evidence to inform investment in different energy system transitions.
Susie Kistruck, Project Manager, Energy Storage & Distribution at the ETI who is leading the project said:
“We believe that a range of gases, namely bio-SNG, hydrogen and natural gas, have the potential to play an increasingly significant role in the delivery of energy. Gases such as bio-SNG and hydrogen, could feasibly lower overall effective CO2 emissions whilst continuing to ensure the secure supply of energy to a wide range of end-users. Our research has indicated that a broad range of gases could be flexible enough to be used for multiple purposes and this project aims to build a detailed understanding of the issues that will need to be addressed to make this a reality”
Len Eastell, Senior Consultant and Project Manager at DNV GL adds:
“The work to be undertaken will initially focus on the production and utilisation aspects of each of the scenarios to define the infrastructure requirements. We have assembled a team who are experts in the fields of Bio SNG, Natural Gas and Hydrogen to explore options at both the system level and detail level to work towards delivering an optimum cost effective pathway.”
The Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association, University College London and the European Gas Research Group have been chosen as subcontractors to assist in the project providing specialist expertise in hydrogen technologies, systems modelling, and the European outlook respectively.
The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies – BP, Caterpillar, EDF, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell – and the UK Government
The role of the ETI is to act as a conduit between academia, industry and the government to accelerate the development of low carbon technologies. We bring together engineering projects that develop affordable, secure and sustainable technologies to help the UK address its long term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits. We make targeted commercial investments in nine technology programmes across heat, power, transport and the infrastructure that links them.
Government representation is through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills with funding channeled through Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council who also sit on the ETI board. The Department of Energy and Climate Change are observers on the ETI board
About Energy Storage and Distribution (ESD)
The UK’s energy networks will require substantial investment in new capacity, technology development and innovation to accommodate a low carbon generation source to ensure that they are fit for purpose to meet predicted future demand. Therefore, networks must have the capacity not only to meet peak flow demand but also build in extra capacity. There is every chance that there will be greater interdependence between networks in the future.
There is scope for significant innovation in the way that energy is delivered to end consumers. In the future, there will be an important role for storage technologies to cater for more intermittent supplies. Heat networks may also emerge as a critical new infrastructure requirement and there will be implications for the role of gas in the future energy mix, together with investment in gas storage.
The core themes to the ETI’s ESD programme are:
- Adapt and develop networks to enable the delivery of a cost effective secure future low carbon energy system in the UK;
- Develop and demonstrate new infrastructure approaches to support the energy transition out to 2050.
Key facts and figures
These figures are taken from the Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group – Technology Innovation Needs Assessment on Energy Storage:
- Innovation in energy storage technologies has the potential to yield estimated total system cost savings of £5bn by 2050;
- Innovation has the potential to unlock benefits by enabling the deployment of other low carbon technologies;
- The UK could capture a 4% share of a global market with potential cumulative gross value-added of between £0.3-£1.6 tr by 2050.
- Innovation in smart distribution advanced control systems and fault current limiters makes up most of the potential estimated total savings of £0.2bn by 2050.