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Enabling large-scale injection of biomethane in the European gas distribution

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SmartGasGrid (Enabling large-scale injection of biomethane in the European gas distribution)

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2019-06-01 do 2019-09-30

The need to decarbonise heat to meet climate change objectives has led governments to create incentives for investment in biomethane plants. These incentives have caused significant growth in the number of biomethane plants that feed into the gas grid in the UK, the rest of Europe as well as many other countries. However, the capacity of many of these plants is constrained by their inability to inject into the network at times of low gas demand. Utonomy is proposing a solution to this problem by remotely controlling the pressures in the network to maximise the feed in of biomethane. The objectives of this project are to understand the market and commercial opportunity for this product as well as the technical feasibility.
This project considers the technical feasibility of developing a solution to optimise biomethane feed in, based on Utonomy’s existing product. The key elements of the existing product that will require modification are the actuator, which is retrofitted to the gas governor and the pressure control algorithms. Utonomy’s existing product is used to control the low-pressure network (50mbarg). However, biomethane plants normally inject into the medium pressure network (2000mbarg). In order to control the medium pressure network, the actuator must be modified to cope with the higher forces. It must also retain its Atex zone 0 rating which puts a constraint on the maximum motor current. Calculations were made in the project, which proved that the actuator could be modified to cope with the additional forces while retaining its Atex zone 0 certification. A design was completed of the modified actuator. The second part of the technical feasibility concerned the pressure control algorithms. These are used to optimise the injection of biomethane during seasonal or diurnal variations. The inputs and outputs of such control algorithms were defined in the project.

A market study was carried out to identify the key geographical markets. The study identified the top 20 markets in the world. More detailed analysis of each of the top 20 markets was carried out including interviews with gas distribution networks (potential customers) and other stakeholders. The study confirmed that biomethane injection is likely to grow strongly in many markets and that the problem of injection capacity is a major constraint on growth, confirming the need for the proposed Utonomy solution.

The technical and commercial feasibility of developing this product were confirmed during the project.
In 2017, biogas injection into the gas grid in Europe was 19.4Twh which reduced emissions of CO2 by 3.5million tonnes per annum. If the Utonomy solution was applied to all the networks receiving biomethane across Europe, Utonomy estimates that this would enable and increase in injection rates of 20%. This would reduce emissions of CO2 by a further 700,000 tonnes per annum.
Biomethane plant feeding the gas network