Just returned from a stimulating interactive day with National Grid Gas Transmission, discussing the future needs of their UK -wide network, with well informed and savvy workshop participants. Here is what I learned:
· For every unit of energy produced by electricity in the UK, gas produces three. This remarkable importance of this fuel shows the scale of the challenges – and the opportunities – as the future is faced.
· The UK transmission grid is built and already in place, it runs from St Fergus in Scotland to the Isle of Grain in Kent with large feed-in points along the way and is powered by 24 large and often emission-heavy compressors using what are essentially jet aircraft engines.
· The Transmission Grid is aware of the rapidly changing energy landscape largely driven by the startling rise of renewables. It has an Ofgem case to prepare and doesn’t want to be left behind as scenarios encompassing the future are modelled and worked up. Some scenarios see this decarbonisation process accelerating right up to 2050
· On a day when Canadian company Enbridge and innovative Dutch company hydrogenics declared their power to gas storage plant live it is also evident that the role of hydrogen in the UK energy mix is set for a substantial increase. Indeed, what constitutes ‘gas’ is set to change markedly.
To their credit National Transmission Grid have hosted a series of exemplary stakeholder sessions throughout the UK, engaging in a hitherto unthinkable way. Grid faces a challenging but interesting future and will have a key albeit much changed role to play for the next thirty years.