Identifying future drivers of change

Great Britain’s energy landscape has changed considerably in the past 15 years. With developments in technology, evolving business models and changing consumer behaviour, we expect this to continue. The GFOP team are trying to map what potential impacts and opportunities this creates for gas market participants. Your input will help us achieve this.

Our journey towards decarbonisation must be achieved while maintaining security of supply and providing energy at the lowest cost to consumers. Transitioning to a decarbonised energy system generates many questions and uncertainties that need to be answered. Here are just a few examples.

Gas-fired power station demand

In recent years, Great Britain has seen rapid growth in renewable electricity sources like wind and solar. Despite this, gas-fired power stations still provided approximately 42% of electricity demand in 2016.

As we continue our journey towards a decarbonised energy future, gas-fired power stations alongside other balancing mechanisms will be expected to meet the variability associated with renewables.

This change in requirement creates real uncertainty that we need to find answers to: how will power station behaviour change within-day and day-to-day? What effect will changing gas-fired generation demand have on other parts of the gas network? Can we still be certain that gas can continue to meet electricity network demands?

Supply sources and patterns

As UK Continental Shelf supplies continue to decline, where Great Britain sources its gas supply from will change. Depending on where these alternative supplies enter the network, flow patterns across Great Britain could change significantly. This creates many uncertainties: will gas customer’s optionality in how they use our network be impacted? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of bringing gas onto the network at multiple entry points instead of single large ones?

Building a clear drivers of change picture

By using our network analysis models and talking to stakeholders, we are building a clear picture of potential drivers of change, and the uncertainties they pose to the gas network.

So far, the most operationally impactful drivers of change we have found are:

  • decreasing gas supply in Scotland
  • Great Britain’s increasing reliance on gas imports
  • Introduction of shale and bioSNG gas supplies
  • Changing gas-fired power station demand across Great Britain
  • Swings in the level of gas stock within our network of pipes.

Working to benefit the industry

We want to focus on what you, or customers and stakeholders, believe are the most important elements of the future energy landscape. We are therefore keen to get your input on:

  • What you believe will be the most impactful drivers of change on the gas system
  • How you believe your usage of the gas network will change in the future
  • What topics you want us to focus on first

About the author: Imran Abdulla ([email protected]is a Senior Gas Network Strategy Analyst in the Gas Network Development team in Warwick.