Posted: 30 November 2016
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A fast and flexible future

What is the future of gas? Nicola Pitts, Head of Market Change, Gas System Operator, talks about why, as the owner and operator of the national gas transmission system, it’s a particularly pertinent question for National Grid.

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A fast and flexible future

A fast and flexible future

We need to continue to innovate and evolve the transmission system so that the network continues to play a vital role in the provision of energy.

"My view is that the UK gas industry, which has served us for over 200 years, will continue to be a valuable national asset well into the middle of the 21st century"

Nicola Pitts, Head of Market Change, Gas System Operator, National Grid.

Insight:

Gas produced around 29% of Great Britain’s electricity needs in 2015 and the gas networks supply 23.2 million households, with 60,000 new customers connecting each year.

Source: National Grid.

Casual observers of the energy debate would be forgiven for thinking gas is on a downward trajectory. My view is that the UK gas industry, which has served us for over 200 years, will continue to be a valuable national asset well into the middle of the 21st century.

nicolapitts_150x225

Nicola Pitts, Head of Market Change, Gas System Operator, National Grid.

Affordability for energy customers must be at the forefront of our thinking. Gas will be crucial to continuing to provide secure energy supply at best value for consumers, while we transition to a low carbon future. And that’s a view endorsed by the Policy Exchange think tank, who recently called for Government to develop a new heat strategy; incorporating substantial improvements in energy efficiency, more efficient gas appliances, greener forms of gas and alternative heat technologies. Of course, there will be a role for district heat networks and heat pumps, but these technologies may not work for everyone and no one technology can provide a silver bullet.

Lifestyle choice

Gas is seen as a fast and flexible fuel that fits in with peoples’ lifestyles. Right now gas provides around 90% of our home heating, hot water and cooking needs. Gas produced around 29% of Great Britain’s electricity needs in 2015 and the gas networks supply 23.2 million households, with 60,000 new customers connecting each year. We already have a network spanning 7,660 kilometres (4,760 miles) of high pressure pipe. It makes a great deal of sense for household and business consumers to continue to make use of these assets.

Across the nation, we are committed to adapting our existing national transmission system infrastructure and commercial agreements, to make sure they remain the most efficient and reliable means of transporting gas from where suppliers connect to where it is needed.

We know we need to continue to innovate and evolve the transmission system so that the network continues to play a vital role in the provision of energy, as the UK progresses towards meeting 2050 climate change targets. As a company, we are at the forefront of developing green gas solutions that aim to deliver value for money through using the existing networks – for example, project CLoCC (customer low cost connections), compressed natural gas vehicles and involvement in hydrogen trials.

We need to consider the role of our networks in transporting and using new forms of gas, like biomethane and shale, as well as how our networks support any future build of new gas-fired power stations.

Get involved

So, we are launching a nationwide conversation about the future of gas. We want to hear from industry, policy-makers, academics, green groups, consumer groups and, indeed, anyone with a view on the future role of gas and the gas transmission network.

From Tuesday 29 November, you can take part through our new Microsite, LinkedIn or Twitter using the hashtag #futureofgas.

Alongside this, we’ll be conducting our own analysis to build on work from groups including KPMG and the Energy Networks Association, to support our understanding of the future of gas. This work – and the feedback we receive from stakeholders – will help form our final view and recommendations to government towards the end of 2017.

We all have a role to play in the future of energy, so please get involved and join the debate.

Stage set for flagship competition