Posted: 23 October 2017
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Connections simplified with Project CLoCC

National Grid is enabling the connection of newer forms of indigenous gas through a major innovation - Project CLoCC (Customer Low Cost Connections). As it ticks towards an October 2018 completion date, Project Manager, Anne-Marie Liszczyk, shares the latest from a venture that will cut the cost and time involved for customers to connect to the National Transmission System (NTS).

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Connections simplified with Project CLoCC

Connections simplified with Project CLoCC

By transforming the connections process, we’ll be able to meet the needs of a new generation of non-traditional gas customers.

"Collaboration is a key part of every innovation project at National Grid and, with CLoCC, we’ve been regularly meeting and listening to customers and stakeholders"

Anne-Marie Liszczyk, Project Manager.

Insight:

This £5.4m Network Innovation Competition (NIC) funded piece of work was set up to respond to a new demand for connecting to the NTS.

Source: National Grid.

Connections to the NTS will be within reach of a fresh generation of gas customers thanks to the innovative solutions we’re developing on Project CLoCC.

This £5.4m Network Innovation Competition (NIC) funded piece of work was set up to respond to a new demand for connecting to the NTS.

The project will help facilitate new customers by reducing current connection costs by more than half to less than £1m – and shortening the time involved from an average of three years to less than a year.

By transforming the connections process, we’ll be able to meet the needs of a new generation of non-traditional gas customers, such as biomethane, small gas generators and potentially shale subject to industry progression in this area. The project also supports the development of exit projects, such as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for transport. In this context, gas can be taken from the NTS and used to power vehicles, such as fleets of lorries.

Connecting emerging gas markets to the NTS means we can help maximise the potential for newer forms of indigenous gas, thereby improving the nation’s energy security and reducing our carbon footprint in the process.

CLoCC moved into its final stage this September, so it’s an ideal moment to bring Connecting readers up to speed on our progress to date.

Customer-friendly connections portal

One of the main objectives of this project was to create an online connections portal where customers can access information and follow the journey of their application in a simple and convenient way.

After successfully developing and testing a prototype version of the portal, we’re currently in the building phase ahead of a final version being tested in Q1 2018.

Our user-friendly solution will allow potential customers to obtain an estimate of how much a connection would cost them in a matter of minutes. In response to customer feedback, it also includes information about the capacity process, so both cost and capacity information can be explored quickly and in one place.

What’s more, the portal will provide information about the entire customer journey, from application to first gas. So once registered, customers can return to the site and easily follow the progress of their connection application.

Designing the physical connection

The project also supports the development of exit projects, such as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for transport.

We identified early in the project that by developing a suite of ‘plug and play’ connections, designed to fit within existing above-ground National Grid sites, we would be able to reduce the amount of site work and therefore help cut both connection times and costs.

As a result, we’ve designed a suite of standardised, pre-approved and pre-appraised connection designs covering pipework sizes of 80mm, 200mm and 300mm (nominal bore). These designs will be ready to order off the shelf and will accommodate a broad range of customers, with a wide range of gas types and gas flows.

Our innovative power supply

Another challenge facing the project was that each connection site, sometimes in remote locations, would need a power supply. This is necessary to connect the entry or exit point with National Grid’s communications and control systems.

Traditionally, power is provided by the local Distribution Network Operator (DNO), but this can be costly and can take some time to establish depending on how close the site is to the network. As reducing both time and cost were the overriding aims of CLoCC, we needed to find alternatives.

After some investigation, we opted to use another National Grid innovation developed under the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA), called the renewable power kiosk. This is fitted with both solar panels and a small wind turbine that can be used to charge a bank of batteries within the kiosk, and provide the power we need more flexibly and affordably.

The renewable kiosk will now undergo further testing at a National Grid training facility to prove it’s suitable for the job.

For customers who don’t have space to house the necessary systems and kiosk at their preferred connection location, we’ve developed a more compact version called the ‘skiosk’. We believe this will provide an excellent solution for most customers who are limited on space.

Sharing what we’re learning

Collaboration is a key part of every innovation project at National Grid and, with CLoCC, we’ve been regularly meeting and listening to customers and stakeholders to ensure the work we’re doing really meets their needs.

We held a conference in February 2017 to give our stakeholders the opportunity to speak to our team and voice their opinions and help shape the outcome of the project. Potential customers had the opportunity to discuss specifics of the project to gain a better understanding of the work we are doing and how, together, we can reshape the current connections process. From these discussions, we were able to gain invaluable feedback and ask questions to help us understand exactly what our potential customers need from us.

In July, we presented to more than 150 Institute of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM) members at their annual conference. It was a fantastic opportunity to share what we’ve been learning with the wider industry and outline our proposition to potential customers.

We are also spending time at various industry forums. Most recently we met with potential biomethane customers at the recent Energy Networks Association (ENA) Biomethane Forum, here we presented to representatives from each of the distribution networks, biomethane developers and industry bodies, making many useful contacts with this new and growing gas sector, while demonstrating our commitment to provide connections for them.

As we continue with the final phase of our project, we’ll deliver detailed designs of each connection solution, as well as building and testing one of these designs. Alongside this, we’ll complete work on the online portal and ensure all commercial arrangements are in place so the wide-reaching benefits of the project will be accessible to a new generation of customers as soon as the project closes in October 2018.

Search is on for a potential pilot customer

The CLoCC team is keen to find a business to collaborate with, which can help prove the concepts being developed through CLoCC. The selected partner would get the opportunity to use the developments created by CLoCC to date and progress their own project all the way from application to gas on.

Interested parties can contact the CLoCC team.

Further reading:

Find out more about the innovations in development in NGGT.

And visit our Project CLoCC website to stay up to date with all the latest news.

LCNI 2017: your ticket to the future