Jan 2014
Gas Distribution
Low Carbon Gas Preheating
Jan 2014
Dec 2017
Northern Gas Networks
Dan Sadler (Head of Head of Energy Futures)
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Network Innovation Competition
The transition to a low carbon energy sector in the UK presents Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs) with a number of challenges, including reducing the Business Carbon Footprint (BCF) of operating gas networks. The requirement for GDNs to preheat gas at pressure reduction stations (PRS) to avoid freezing the outlet pipework and ensure continuity of supply is a significant contributor to our BCF. GDN’s preheating requirement is currently delivered using aging Water Bath Heaters (WBH) or more modern Boiler Package technologies (BH). However, there are several key issues that GDNs currently face when appraising investment options for preheating technology. Firstly, the whole life costs and in particular the carbon impact of currently available technologies is not understood. Secondly, there has been limited research or development in this area resulting in no financially viable alternative to existing technologies. And finally, the current shrinkage arrangements provide no incentive to target reductions in BCF associated with preheating.

The Low Carbon Gas Preheating (LCGP) seeks to address these issues directly. The project will install two ‘alternative’ preheating technologies across six NGN sites of differing scale - three Thermo Catalytic Systems (HotCat) and three Low Pressure Steam Systems (LP Steam). Smart metering technology will be installed on each of the six sites to provide data required to calculate and publish the system efficiency of each site and each technology. Additionally, smart metering technology will be installed separately on six sites that employ existing technologies. System efficiencies will be calculated and published for direct comparison.

The project has four key objectives:

  • To significantly accelerate the development of alternative technologies and increase the level of competition in the preheating technology market

  • To provide necessary data to allow networks to optimise investment decisions, including reducing the BCF of preheating

  • To provide robust data to assess the accuracy of current estimates of GDNs ‘Own Use Gas’ within the current Shrinakge Gas estimates

  • To reduce whole life costs of preheating installations and provide direct benefit to customers as lower charges and improved environmental performance.