Gas transmission/distribution

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A £150 million gas pipeline located 30 metres underneath the River Humber has become operational, National Grid has announced. The Feeder 9 project was begun in 2016 with joint venture project partners Skanska, A.Hak and Porr. It replaces a trench-laid gas pipe which had become exposed.
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Ofgem has issued its final determinations for the RIIO2 price controls beginning in April next year, raising the baseline profit margin for investors in the transmission and gas distribution sectors by more than a third of a percentage point when compared to its draft determinations in July. Utility Week looks at where Ofgem has changed tack and gauges reaction.
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A former partner at Ofgem has said she is still mystified as to why the regulator handed some companies penalties and others rewards under the new business plan incentive mechanism for the RIIO2 price controls. Maxine Frerk said Ofgem needs to provide more clarity on exactly how networks’ business plans are judged. Its chief executive, Jonathan Brearley, told Utility Week some companies had initially failed to show their plans were in the interest of consumers.
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Politicians and business leaders want the country to deliver a green revolution, create jobs and boost the economy. As part of our Build Back Better campaign, Utility Week in association with Addleshaw Goddard has published a major new report exploring the significant role utilities can play in fulfilling these ambitions.
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If hydrogen is to fulfil its potential as a driver of decarbonisation then large-scale production projects need to kick off in the next few years. According to Gas Goes Green Champion, and former Cadent chief executive, Chris Train, the first step should be to start the process of allowing gas networks to blend hydrogen into the grid.
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SGN’s chief executive talks to Utility Week as part of our Countdown to COP campaign about the challenge of engaging customers in decarbonisation of heat. He also questions whether the UK is being ambition enough on hydrogen and why our net-zero goals must be aligned globally.
Interviews
Less than one per cent of megaprojects deliver the promised benefits on time and on budget. Download this report from Vision to learn why they go wrong, how you can fix them and why the fix works. The report also explores how these lessons can be applied to all capital projects of scale.
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The government has provisionally chosen the first net-zero industrial clusters to receive funding for the construction of carbon capture and storage infrastructure. In a statement to parliament, energy and climate change minister Greg Hands revealed that the East Coast and HyNet North West clusters have been selected as the two “track 1” clusters it is aiming to get up and running by the mid-2020s.
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Three possible pathways towards the decarbonisation of the economy have been set out in the Net Zero Strategy. The strategy noted that the three scenarios – high electrification, high resource and high innovation – are only intended to be illustrative, representing a range of practical ways in which net zero could be delivered rather than the mostly likely or preferred solutions.
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After countless false dawns, it seems that the Heat & Buildings Strategy is finally set to see the light of day. But, industry experts tell Utility Week that government’s indecision has now led it to publish this crucial document at a very difficult time. David Blackman explores the likely key points and the level of detail expected.
Analysis
As part of our Countdown to COP series, Utility Week speaks to Northern Gas Networks’ chief executive Mark Horsley. He discusses why the energy transition doesn’t need to be scary, the need for utilities to support councils and why there is no more time to waste on accelerating green infrastructure projects.
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A consortium has announced plans to develop a large-scale hydrogen production facility on the island of Flotta in Orkney that would be powered using renewable electricity from the 2GW offshore wind farm it also intends to build to the west of the archipelago in Scotland. The group, consisting of Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, French oil and gas company Total Energies and Scottish offshore wind developer Renewable Infrastructure Development Group, recently entered a bid for seabed rights for the West of Orkney wind farm in Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind leasing round.
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Boosting the volume of hydrogen production should bring economies of scale and make the gas viable for home heating, industry experts have told Utility Week. Responding to comments by energy minister Lord Callahan, who expressed scepticism over its suitability for home heating, KPMG head of energy and natural resources Simon Virley said hydrogen can match natural gas on price if costs follow the trajectories seen in the wind and solar sectors.
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An energy minister has described himself as a “hydrogen sceptic” and said the costs of producing the gas mean it is “pretty much impossible” to see it being used in mass home heating. Lord Callanan was outlining his thinking on the main heat decarbonisation options at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference on Sunday.
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CEO and founder of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, Celia Greaves, believes the UK stands before a gaping ‘window of opportunity’ to take a global lead on fuel cells – despite ‘very little’ recent attention.
Comment
Average power prices over the past two weeks have been eight times higher than the average in 2019, according to data from EnAppSys. Phil Hewitt, director of the energy market analyst, told Utility Week further supplier failures were inevitable and that retailers should be lobbying Ofgem to give them some relief from the price cap. He said many suppliers had been far too relaxed about actively trading in the intraday and advanced markets.
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