Smart gas network infrastructure is making it easier to mix greater quantities of green gas into to the gas grid. Here’s how.
A smart gas network means a more capable gas network – and one that is able to use a mix of different green gases to reduce carbon emissions.
Today, biomethane is mixed into the gas grid, helping displace some of the natural gas that 85% of Britain’s homes rely upon for heating, hot water and cooking. The equivalent of more than 750,000 homes across Great Britain are now being heated by it. It’s also used to generate electricity, keeping Britain’s lights on in a greener way.
Because biomethane tends to be locally produced by businesses, farms and utility companies from food, farm, crop and human waste, it can provide a source of green energy to those places around the country where alternatives, such as hydrogen, isn’t available.
But how are gas networks using smart technology to support that?
One of the things that sometimes prevent gas network companies from connecting more biomethane plants, more quickly, is the challenge that when overall demand for gas is low, then gas network capacity is limited. That’s because the grid stores the natural gas not being used, so there is less room for biomethane.
This means that green gas producers may not be able to connect to the gas network to supply the biomethane they produce at certain times - or may be paid not to feed green gas into the grid.
It also means that connections for biomethane plants are more likely to be restricted to those parts of the country where gas demand is more consistently higher, limiting the options for new production plants to be built.
One innovation project, called OptiNet, uses a smart pressure control system to allow gas networks companies to automatically and remotely adjust the pressure of the gas grid, which has to be kept within certain limits to ensure the consistent, secure and safe supply of gas. This allows gas network companies to reduce the number of times they need to call out engineers to do so, making the whole system more flexible.
This will also mean that where there is demand for gas at the times when overall demand is low, it can be met by green gas. It will also allow gas networks to change the pressure of the network up and down more easily and quickly, to deliver gas to flexible power plants that are used to support sites like wind and solar farms, for those times when they aren’t producing as much renewable electricity.
OptiNet is just one of the projects profiled in a new document that we’ve published, called ‘Introducing Britain’s Smart Gas Grid’, which you can find to the right of this page.
Notes to editor
Gas Goes Green #H2Explainers are a series of blogs setting all the key information you need to know about how Britain’s gas networks are working to deliver hydrogen to our homes, as part of our 'Tomorrow's Heat, Today's Opportunity' campaign. Check out the ENA Newsroom to find other articles and updates from both gas and electricity network companies.
About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).