A blog by Tina Hawke, Design Manager, Entry Connections

Future of energy

Given last week’s launch of the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) Net Zero report – which advocated moving to a net-zero emissions position by 2050 – it is easy to fixate on the challenges ahead. As the CCC’s report identified, moving to that net-zero position will require an almost unprecedented level of investment in green technology, coupled with really meaningful behaviour changes from everyone who uses energy.

However fixating solely on what we need to do to get to that 2050, net-zero, point, perhaps obscures something else which is very important. The progress the energy industry has already made towards building a greener economy.

It is much easier to see this progress when it comes to electricity. After all, the manifestations of a low carbon electricity production system are clear for all to see. Be they solar farms, on-shore wind turbines or hydroelectric facilities, low carbon electricity production tends to change the environment around us.

The same cannot be said for green gas production. As today (8 May 2019) is Green Gas Day, I wanted to, on behalf of Cadent, reflect on the major steps forward in green gas production that I see, both across our network and the whole UK.

There are now 32 biomethane plants connected to the Cadent network. These plants take either waste or specially grown crops and convert these feedstocks into usable, low carbon gas. Taking into account the other Gas Distribution Networks around the UK, we are nearing 100 plants. In the UK we put biomethane to work for heating homes and businesses, and now heat the equivalent number of properties as every home in the city of Coventry.

It isn’t just about heat, though. When we still get in our petrol and diesel powered cars every day, we know we are a long way from that low carbon economy we all desire.

Electrification plays a role in decarbonising transport, of that I have no doubt. However gas does too. So far we have connected seven gas fuelling stations to our network. The latest one of these was opened in January 2019 by Gasrec, and it serves Ocado’s 29 strong fleet of gas powered HGVs, significantly cutting Ocado’s CO2 emissions today. Similarly, by the end of 2019, Nottingham will have a fleet of about 120 biogas powered buses, the world’s largest fleet of green, low emission, biogas buses in the UK.

I believe those two examples, where green gas is powering HGVs and buses, show exactly the role a green, cutting-edge, gas network can play in meeting the decarbonisation targets we all want to hit.

We’re making real progress, but that’s not to say there aren’t challenges.

The impending expiry of the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a real problem for many of the companies which want to connect to our network. To build new green gas plants they need regulatory certainty –which we need Government support with.

However that is one small cloud in an otherwise sunny picture. The CCC talks about building a net-zero economy by 2050, and that is to be lauded, however the work that individuals and businesses, small and large across the country, are doing right now to build a lower carbon economy using the gas network, should also be commended.

On Green Gas Day 2019, I want to commend that work.


By Tina Hawke, Design Manager, Entry Connections
 

Cadent

Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the welsh borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

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