The annual Utility Week Live conference is taking place this week (21 and 22 May) at Birmingham’s NEC and will see the unveiling of the gas network industry’s flagship stand, the Gas Innovation Showcase.
This is a collaborative effort from across the gas industry, with network operators putting customers at the heart of the innovations being developing to drive our industry forward. What’s more, Utility Week Live promises to excite and engage a wide audience and highlight some of extensive work going-on both in front and also behind the scenes, to decarbonise the UK’s gas networks.
The showcase brings us together with the other four UK Gas Distribution and Transmission Networks – Cadent, National Grid Gas Transmission, Northern Gas Networks and Wales & West Utilities, plus our industry trade association, the Energy Networks Association (ENA).
Throughout the two days those attending the event will be able to learn more about the opportunities and challenges faced by the gas networks and how our innovations, updates and efficiencies are being made with future customers in mind.
On the first day, our Director of Energy Futures Gus McIntosh is doing a presentation on our Aberdeen Vision project, which has the capability to provide new market opportunities for hydrogen and carbon capture. The St Fergus gas terminal, 40 miles north of Aberdeen, is a key strategic National Transmission asset and provides an entry point for gas, supplying over a third of the UK’s gas. This location offers an opportunity to develop hydrogen blending in the National Transmission System (NTS) as well as in the regional gas distribution network. From the terminal, we’re proposing a new 100% hydrogen pipeline to Aberdeen where currently the use of hydrogen for transport is the most advanced and widespread in the UK.
Also on Tuesday, our Innovation Project Manager Mark Wheeldon is presenting to the conference our H100 hydrogen project. H100 is a feasibility study which will enable us to assess the viability, from both a technical and commercial viewpoint, of constructing and operating the UK’s first 100% hydrogen gas distribution network. Our project will assess the suitability of three potential sites based on the site-specific opportunities, challenges and characteristics each site offers. The three sites all have attributes that are representative of the wider UK gas distribution system, which makes them prime candidates for a demonstration.
Simon Buckley from Sarco Stopper Ltd (our key partner in developing Gas Stent technology) will deliver a presentation showcasing the project and some exciting recent live trail outcomes. The stent process will soon give us the ability to seal a damaged or leaking gas main from inside the pipe while maintaining the flow of gas without interrupting customers’ gas supplies. This project has real potential to be a ‘game changer’ in how we safely manage high volume gas escapes in the future.
RRES – Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System
On the second day (22 May) our Innovation Project Manager Ollie Machin will be presenting our incredible Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES), which aims to revolutionise the way roadworks are performed with its cutting edge robotics, advanced custom tooling and artificial intelligence.
The robotic solution is set to improve the efficiency, safety and minimise the environmental impact of utility excavations and activity.
On our stand, you’ll meet a variety of industry experts from all the companies and hear about these and many other new developments in innovation. Specifically, in the demonstration area of the Gas Innovation Showcase, our contribution will be to showcase the following innovations:
- Collaborating with WASK – WASK CRANE will deliver a 30-minute demo showcasing a recent innovation in single hole Twin Bag. This new process allows two inflatable bags to be installed through the one drilling hole to isolate the flow of gas. This development in new technology is a significant improvement over the conventional systems used today.
- Long-handled tooling – TT-UK is one of our innovation project partners and will be delivering a live demo on our long-handled tooling. This demo will showcase the process and explain how we can do operations above ground through a minimal excavation of core hole using our core and vac technology.
- Collaborating with Pipetech – Pipetech will be doing a live demo of the advanced mini bag kit. This system developed with ourselves allows for the safe replacement of tight 90-degree bend ECVs used in semi concealed meter boxes.
- Collaborating with Steve Vick – Steve Vick will be demonstrating the Service Foam sealing project, a system being developed to provide an easy method of sealing the annuls space between recently inserted gas main and the iron carrier pipe, which has been decommissioned.
And finally, I’d just like to say how proud our dedicated and professional workforce is to deliver natural and green gas to over 14 million people across Scotland and southern England. And achieving that innovatively, efficiently and above all safely for all our customers, is a challenge we totally embrace.