Senior Government and business leaders back a pivotal role for gas networks in the future

For immediate release - 3 December 2018

Senior Government and business leaders have highlighted the pivotal role of Britain’s gas networks in delivering a cleaner, smarter and more efficient energy system for the public, in a wide-ranging survey carried out this autumn.

Close to 80% of stakeholders surveyed see the gas transmission and distribution networks as having a continued key role for heating. The networks are a critical piece of national infrastructure, thanks to decades of investment which provide reliable, secure and flexible sources of energy to 23mn homes across Britain.

The survey, led by independent research consultants Accent on behalf of ENA, targeted close to 80 senior-level, national stakeholders from businesses, consumer groups, the Government and think tanks.

At a time of rapid industry change, the survey shows that stakeholders see a role for the gas networks in three key areas: driving innovation across Britain; developing the role of gas for heating; and helping to decarbonise the energy system. Industry stakeholders want to see the gas networks prioritising these three key areas, today and as they develop business plans for the forthcoming Ofgem RIIO-2 regulatory period.

Innovation is a top priority for 86% of stakeholders surveyed, which is not surprising given the gas networks have delivered industry-leading innovation projects through Ofgem’s RIIO-1 incentive-based regulatory framework.

There continues to be widespread support for decarbonising the energy system to provide low-carbon and cost-effective energy, with a clear role for Britain’s gas networks in delivering this. Close to 80% of stakeholders surveyed said decarbonisation and the environment are high priority issues for them. By building on the innovative work already taking place, the gas networks are developing an economically and technically-feasible pathway for decarbonised gas to help meet the target set to reduce emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

The survey results also signal a continued shift toward the need for a more integrated energy system, with 70% of stakeholders surveyed wanting to discuss how best to use both Britain’s gas and electricity networks within the energy system. By taking a ‘Whole System Approach’ it means looking at optimal network investment and operational decisions for the whole energy network, not just the individual parts in isolation.

Expanding on the findings of this survey, a bespoke, face-to-face workshop will be held in early 2019 to explore stakeholder priorities for the future of the gas networks in greater depth, including how the networks should tackle key challenges across the whole energy system.

ENA Chief Executive David Smith, said:

“There is a very bright future for Britain’s gas networks which play a pivotal role in delivering a cleaner, smarter and more efficiency energy system fit for the British public.

The gas networks are known for delivering some of the most innovative energy projects in the UK, with almost £200mn invested in these industry-leading projects since 2013.

It is clear that that the wider energy industry wants to see Government policy and the RIIO-2 regulatory framework enabling the networks to deliver the investment and innovation needed for the low-carbon and cost-effective energy system of the future.”

ENDS

Notes to editors
- ENA represents the companies that operate and maintain the gas and electricity grid network in the UK and Ireland. Serving over 30 million customers, they are responsible for the transmission and distribution network of “wires and pipes” that keep our lights on, our homes warm and our businesses running.

- ENA’s Gas Network Innovation Strategy sets out the work that gas distribution networks are doing to promote energy innovation. Since 2013 almost £200mn has been invested through the UK’s gas networks to develop innovative gas projects, such as trailing robots for pipe inspection, installing smarter ‘hybrid’ heating systems and testing hydrogen blends for heating our homes.

- A Whole System Approach means looking at optimal network investment and operational decisions for the whole energy network, not just the individual parts in isolation. It also means considering interactions across energy vectors (e.g. heat networks, energy storage or transportation) so that wider options and value can be taken into account. This work is supported by consideration of the connections, data links, interfaces, coordinated planning opportunities, potential impacts and shared learnings across electricity and gas network and other energy vectors, both currently and in the future.

- Accent carried out a telephone and online survey of ENA and the gas networks’ national stakeholders. From an initial sample of 229 contacts, 78 stakeholders completed the survey. The majority of interviews (72) were conducted via telephone, with a small number completed online (6). Interviews took place between 6 July and 6 August 2018.

For more information, contact:

Casey Sattler
Press and Public Affairs
Energy Networks Association
T: +44 (0) 207 706 5115
M: +44 (0) 7725 372 758

Matt Evans
Research Director
Accent
T: +44 (0) 208 742 2211
W: www.accent-mr.com