Innovation

Innovation is about doing something differently to benefit our customers and improve efficiency.

With 82,000 miles of pipeline, delivering gas to around 11 million customers, innovation helps us find the most up to date tools and techniques to keep the gas flowing, as well as making sure we are ready to take our customers into a low carbon energy future in a safe and affordable way.

Our dedicated innovation team are leading projects covering:

  • Day to day operations – how we maintain and repair the existing gas pipe network.
  • Gas mains replacement – the UK wide infrastructure programme to upgrade old iron gas mains.
  • Future of gas – exploring how low carbon alternatives to natural gas could be used for heating and transport long into the future.

Working with colleagues and technology partners, the team take new ideas from lightbulb moments, through trials to everyday implementation; focusing on solutions that are safe, reliable and improve the customer experience.

If you are interested in working with us please contact box.gd.innovation@cadentgas.com

The gas industry working together

We work collaboratively with the other gas distribution networks on individual projects and share learning from all of our projects.

Working together helps customers benefit from the sharing of effective new ways of working and future technology.

We work in partnership with the Energy Innovation Centre to bring forward new innovations and technologies from small to medium enterprises from around the world that could potentially be applied to the gas network.

Featured projects

Sensit APL Day to day operations

When engineers arrive on site to carry out repair work on underground pipes, finding the precise location of polyethylene pipes (PE) under the ground can be difficult.

It can take several excavations just to find the pipe which increases the amount of time on site and disruption to the surrounding area.

We have been working with SENSIT Technologies on new technology to make the process of finding these pipes quicker and easier. The tool, the Ultra-Trac Acoustic Pipe Locator (APL) or ‘Sensit APL’, uses a keyhole technique with an acoustic sensor to quickly detect plastic and iron pipes underground.

PRISM Gas mains replacement

Traditionally, in a street where the gas mains pipe needs to be replaced it would need to be dug up at each home or business to access the service pipes into the properties. This takes a week to complete using conventional methods. Property owners have to deal with access disruption while excavated waste is generated from each hole in the street.

PRISM is revolutionising this process. Pipes can now be replaced through just two excavation sites – a launch and a receive pit – situated at each end of the street.

Future Role of Gas

We believe that this existing gas distribution network can and should continue to play an important role in meeting future energy needs by delivering low carbon gas alternatives. We are leading a number of projects to support this vision.

More on this below and in our Future Role of Gas pages.

How we are funded

The industry regulator, Ofgem, provides funding to support innovation projects which deliver customer benefits. Gas distribution networks bid for this money under the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) or the Network Innovation Competition (NIC).

Network Innovation Allowance

The NIA is an Ofgem incentive mechanism for funding smaller innovation projects that can deliver benefits to customers.

The NIA is a set annual allowance that allows us, and other network licensees a funding opportunity of 0.7 per cent of revenue to be spent on innovation projects, 90 per cent of which can be recovered through the incentive mechanism.

Details of our NIA projects can be found on the ENA Smarter Networks portal.
NIA Annual Summaries

NIA Annual Summaries Downloads

These annual documents show how we are using the allowance granted under the NIA framework, and how the outputs are achieving tangible benefits for the energy industry and end consumers.

Network Innovation Competition

The NIC is an annual competition to fund flagship innovative projects which could deliver carbon or environmental benefits for gas customers, and that would not otherwise be funded.

This provides the opportunity for network licensees to work collaboratively. A maximum of two project submissions can be made to compete to obtain funding from the NIC; up to a maximum of £18m for the gas distribution industry.


Decarbonising heat

HyDeploy

Along with NGN and the HyDeploy consortium, we have begun a three year project at Keele University to demonstrate that a blend of hydrogen and natural gas can be distributed and used safely and efficiently in a gas distribution network without disruptive changes for customers.

Hydrogen is a clean, carbon-free gas that does not contribute to climate change.

Diverse gas sources

Bio-SNG commercial plant

We are working with project partners to fund the world’s first commercially operating BioSNG plant making gas from household waste.

Bio-substitute natural gas (BioSNG) is a green gas produced by the thermal and chemical conversion of wastes and biomass. It is an affordable, low carbon gas that can be used to heat homes and power vehicles.

Enabling alternative gas

Future Billing Methodology Unlocking a low carbon gas future

The current billing framework was designed for North Sea gas and can be a barrier for alternative sources of gas, particularly low carbon gases. Collaborative working with colleagues from across the gas industry will allow us to explore different options for billing and recommend the best solution for customers.

This project will help unlock the full potential of the gas network to distribute unconventional gases, helping customers move to a low carbon energy future.