Wales & West Utilities to develop interactive smart energy sites across its region to improve system resilience

Wales and West Utilities (WWU) has launched a project to explore how new links between gas and electricity networks could help deliver more reliable and cost-effective energy.                        
Wales & West Utilities to develop interactive smart energy sites across its region to improve system resilience
Sian Rowlands, Innovation Manager. Courtesy of Wales and West Utilities (WWU).

The project will assess the viability of introducing flexible ‘vector conversion’ sites with integrated smart links between the gas and electricity distribution networks. These smart sites would produce hydrogen for storage or the gas grid when electricity supply exceeds demand, making better use of wind and solar, and generate clean power when it’s needed on the electricity grid.

This could help overcome key challenges to delivering a net zero energy system, such as the ability to store energy; produce low-carbon gas; generate electricity when it’s needed most; and integrate these technologies with the energy network.

Thorough consideration will be given to the benefits of this technology and the barriers to its implementation, including a roadmap identifying the technical, commercial, policy, and regulatory changes required to maximise the benefits of the technology.

The project will be led by Wales and West Utilities (WWU), with National Grid Electricity Distribution as non-funding partners. Prof Phil Taylor from the University of Bristol will act as an expert advisor, with the support of leading academics from Imperial College London. The work will be delivered by Frazer Nash and supported by Cornwall Insight.

Over 2022/23, WWU started 19 new projects, funded by a total investment of £2.2 million, including £1.5m of Network Innovation Allowance funding. A further 38 projects are planned for the rest of 2023 into 2024.

“Gas and electricity distribution networks will be required to work together to achieve net-zero emissions targets and secure future system resilience” said Sian Rowlands, Innovation Manager at Wales & West Utilities. “A key output of the HyVoltage Project will be a strategic view of the feasibility of vector conversion links and the beneficial role these could play in enabling gas network infrastructure to play its full role in the net-zero transition. If successful, our project hopes to show that exploiting existing gas network infrastructure is crucial to transitioning to a green energy system, offering significant cost savings for networks and consumers, regardless of whether the networks are used for distribution, storage or both.”

For additional information:

Wales and West Utilities (WWU)

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