Discarding gas grid would be ‘insanity’

Discarding the gas grid would be an act of "insanity", the policy director of the Energy Networks Association Tony Glover has told a meeting at the House of Commons.

Discarding gas grid would be ‘insanity’

The panel event on low carbon heating followed the government’s recent announcement in the clean growth strategy, published a fortnight ago, that it had identified three options for decarbonising heating.

These were electrifying heat, replacing natural gas with green fuels like hydrogen and a hybrid solution.

Glover told the meeting, which was organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Renewable and Sustainability Energy, that the UK had the oldest and most comprehensive gas network in the world, connecting 85 per cent of customers.

“Throwing that away is an act of insanity and I don’t think we are going to do that. We are talking about decarbonising it.”

He said that replacements for natural gas, like bio-methane and hydrogen, were becoming more technically feasible and cost effective.

Maxine Frerk, a former director of regulation at Ofgem, predicted that the gas network would survive largely unscathed.

“I can’t see a future where we don’t have a gas network although there may be some trimming.”

But she said that the government needed to get on with action to decarbonise heat, arguing it was unnecessary to wait until it had come up with an overall solution for the network. 

“We need to work out what we can do now and there are things we can do now. You don’t have to worry about solving everything,” she said, arguing that the Scottish government had set more ambitious targets for decarbonising heat than Westminster.

As an example, she recommended that networks should be given more incentives to use green gas when the next round of the RIIO price controls is published.

Nigel Turvey, strategy and innovation manager at Western Power Distribution, said that modelling carried out into the potential roll out of heat pumps in the east midlands showed that about 6 per cent of households would take them up. But even that level of penetration would increase peak demand on the network by 16 per cent.

He said: “It is very important that we find other ways of decarbonising heat and getting flexibility into the system.” 


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