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Pioneering energy innovation

The way that the UK powers its homes and businesses is set to change dramatically in the coming decades.

Clean, sustainable energy supplies are needed to support growing populations, reduce environmental impact and avoid over-reliance on supplies from overseas.

As the UK moves towards a low carbon economy, we need to develop cleaner ways to power our homes and businesses, at an affordable price tag.

Here at NGN, we’ve positioned ourselves at the forefront of this change, by working with a diverse range of partners to develop the energy networks of the future, as we move from cleaner, to clean to green energy.

These networks are likely to be fully integrated energy systems, where traditional barriers between gas, electricity and heat are removed to create altogether more fluid and efficient ways to generate, store and transport energy.

Gas can continue to play an important role in this smart energy future, but it’s likely that we won’t be relying solely on traditional natural gas (methane), but also clean, renewable fuels such as hydrogen and biomethane.

Our dedicated Customer Energy Solutions team at NGN oversees projects, builds partnerships and lobbies UK decision makers.

Building a hydrogen future

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Our H21 Leeds City Gate project aims to power the great city of Leeds using hydrogen, and in the process, pave the way for more UK hydrogen networks.

We have shown that this goal is technically feasible, and can be done at a realistic cost.

Our dedicated H21 team is now looking at how hydrogen behaves with existing gas meters (including smart meters) and innovative ways of producing and storing hydrogen.

The project has already attracted worldwide attention, and there is lots more to come.

We’ve also teamed with Keele University and Cadent (the new name for National Grid Gas Distribution) to examine how hydrogen and natural gas can work together in our pipes, and our customers’ cookers and boilers.

These projects will help us fill any evidence gaps, and make an even more compelling case for a hydrogen future.

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A test-bed for future energy solutions

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InTEGReL is a new research, development and demonstration centre just outside Newcastle, dedicated to testing and developing integrated energy solutions.

The 15-acre site will allow SMEs, universities and industry to work alongside specialist engineers to test concepts and technology in real-world conditions, and on a big scale.

The centre is run by NGN working with Northern Powergrid and Newcastle University, in partnership with the EPSRC national Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI).

Work will get underway in 2017 on the design and construction of the site, and we expect to see the first starter projects take up residence before the end of the year.

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Energising the North

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The North of England has the potential to be a UK leader in future energy. Our energy sector is already vibrant while our world-class cities and universities provide hubs for trailblazing research and development.

A new NGN report, Energising the North, highlights the economic opportunities available by continuing to drive this agenda.

The report was launched earlier in 2017 at the House of Commons and supported by Andrew Percy MP (then Northern Powerhouse Minister) and leaders from the utilities sector and local government.

You can find the report here.

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Shale: What does it mean for gas distributors?

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The Bowland Shale Formation in the North of England is one of the largest shale sources in the country.

While we are neutral in the debate around shale, it’s important that we understand the implications for our network, if the UK industry develops.

We are nearing the end of a comprehensive study looking at the technical implications of shale for our network, and how we could ensure the best interests of our customers and stakeholders.

If shale production does take off in the UK, we will have done our homework, and be ready for the challenge.

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A shared energy platform

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Futurewave is a collaborative project between ourselves, the Energy Innovation Centre and other gas and electricity distributors to build a shared digital platform for customers.

The project is inspired by businesses such as eBay and Amazon which use collaborative platforms that can service different customers based on their individual needs.

The Energy Loop digital platform will provide consumers with information on energy products, allow energy developers to collaborate and connect individuals and communities with sources of funding for their projects.

The project is now in phase three – building the prototype platform and the business model.

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