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Gas Goes Green programme welcomed

The Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers (IGEM) has welcomed the launch of a major new programme to support the gas industry’s transition to net zero.

Gas Goes Green, spearheaded by Energy Networks Association (ENA), builds on the recent successes of UK gas network operators to remove fossil-based natural gas from the system, driving the move towards zero and low carbon sources, such as hydrogen and biomethane.

The eventual conversion of the UK’s gas networks to green sources will be critical to the country’s climate change efforts, as gas provides four fifths of total energy demand at peak times.

The gas networks are already running trials for using hydrogen and other green gases in projects around the country, including live demonstrations of hydrogen for heating homes.

IGEM, the professional engineering institution for the gas industry, is supporting that work by facilitating a new standard specifying the quality of gas allowed into the UK’s gas transmission and distribution network.

Before the UK can maximise the potential of green gas, it must first scale up the use of biogases and hydrogen by allowing changes to the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations (GSMR). Collaborating with industry, IGEM’s Gas Quality Working Group has been analysing the evidence that it is safe and feasible to make changes to the GSMR. This work will move quality rules from legislation to a new, more flexible industry standard, which is currently in progress.

IGEM chief executive Neil Atkinson said: “When people think of the net zero challenge, they often think of solar panels and wind turbines – not the gas that heats our homes, fuels our vehicles, supports our heavy industry and powers our power stations. But the truth is, net zero won’t be reached through renewable electricity alone. We must put our existing gas infrastructure – one of the best-developed gas networks in the world – to use if we wish to meet this challenge head-on.  

“Collectively, the UK gas industry is stating a clear intention to deliver the world’s first net zero compliant network and IGEM has a crucial role to play in that transition. Our work to help open up the gas network to new sources could soon see the nation’s homes and businesses running off a multitude of new, greener gas sources.

“This is a pivotal moment for the gas industry and represents positive action towards real change and the delivery of the government’s net zero ambitions.”

Gas Goes Green, spearheaded by IGEM Fellow Chris Train, former chief executive of Cadent, reflects the growing ambition of the networks to move at a pace to go green.

The programme has allocated the scope of work necessary to do this across six workstreams, each of which supports the net zero drive: investing in net zero, gas quality and safety, consumer options, system enhancement, hydrogen transformation and communications and stakeholder engagement.

The aim of the programme is to support the eventual conversion of the whole industry in a way that saves bill payers from the impacts of more costly energy alternatives.

In its first phase, the programme will:

Agree and deliver a 17-step Hydrogen Transformation Plan for preparing Britain for a national gas boiler switchover scheme.

Undertake the technical and operational research necessary for the government to make changes to regulations for using hydrogen and renewable gases in the gas networks.

Agree and deliver the updated safety measures for running a zero carbon gas grid.

Make changes to connections to the gas grid, to make it easier for farmers and other businesses to feed green gases like biomethane into the local gas grid.

IGEM will sit on the Gas Goes Green Programme Advisory Group for the project, which brings gas network operators together with civil servants, engineers and policy experts to solve the operational and technical issues associated with delivering a zero carbon gas grid.

22 April 2020

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