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    UK Grid Starts Planning New Gas Market


With industry input, three areas will be the focus of the first phase of the project to decarbonise the UK.

by: William Powell

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UK Grid Starts Planning New Gas Market

UK gas and power transmission systems operator National Grid launched December 18 a Gas Market Plan (GMaP), as part of the preparations for the net-zero-carbon world of 2050.

The GMaP process brings together entities to prepare today for the gas market frameworks of the next two-ten years. To start building this process, National Grid, in collaboration with industry and stakeholders, this year it established a bi-annual Future of Gas (FOG) Forum and a tri-annual FOG Steering Group, which is due to meet next February. Collaborative working across industry will be crucial in making sure the gas system and markets deliver consumer value throughout the energy transition, said National Grid. 

Since the creation of the FOG forum, three areas of focus have been prioritised for 2020: gas quality; use of hydrogen; and balancing rules.

Expanding gas quality specifications could help to extend UKCS recovery and improve the attractiveness of the UK gas market for imports. It is also crucial in transitioning to a low-carbon future. However, wider specifications may create undesirable conditions for customers taking gas off the network.

Balancing is becoming critical in a market more subject to intermittency. There is also the potential for distributed low-carbon gas supplies. The GMaP will explore various aspects of balancing to make sure it continues to maximise market efficiency and consumer value.

And hydrogen is expected to play an important role in decarbonising heat and other sectors. Incorporating hydrogen into the energy mix will have a significant impact on the gas market, says National Grid, although so far in Britain this is theoretical only.

Small industry working groups will be set up in early 2020 to explore these focus areas, with the aim of recommending: new (or modifications to existing) energy codes, products and processes; and proposing further exploratory work to consider for the next annual cycle of the GMaP.

In June, the UK adopted legislation to make the country carbon neutral by 2050, both by cutting carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes and power generation, and by removing carbon from the atmosphere, through reforestation and so on. But this could cost £1 trillion, according to finance minister Philip Hammond.

Delivering consumer value will be important, as energy is going to become more expensive. As the House of Lords put it, members of parliament were "happy to nod through a new statutory instrument which required only minimal scrutiny and no impact assessment had to be prepared, despite the unquantifiable costs."