Real-Time Networks

Our Real-Time Networks project is developing the world’s first real-time gas demand network model, a critical step in our ambition to decarbonise. Our aim is to demonstrate a flexible gas network that can meet current and future energy needs, for a more efficient, low carbon and affordable gas future.

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Driven by decarbonisation and a greater variety in gas supply, where our gas comes from, the type of gas we use and the way we use it is continually changing. Homes and appliances are becoming more energy efficient and low carbon solutions such as renewable technologies, hydrogen and biomethane, are increasingly being used. By modelling demand in real-time, we can meet new and future customer demand. 

Network modelling is essential to the efficient and cost-effective distribution of gas.  Our current network model is based on assumptions and techniques developed in the 1980’s. We have now developed a potentially transformative approach in the way we view, model and plan our network. For this, we are carrying out the most extensive and meaningful gas demand research the industry has seen for decades.

Understanding demand

We are collecting and analysing live gas data every six minutes as it is distributed through our south-east distribution network and used by our customers.

  • Gas demand data has been collected using 1,200 gas meter data loggers installed at our customer’s homes and businesses, recording gas consumption.
  • Our new weather stations are collecting live temperature, wind speed and humidity data. Gas demand is directly linked to local environmental conditions.
  • Gas performance is being monitored using novel sensor technology installed at our six bespoke constructed sites; recording gas quality, flow, temperature and pressure data. The sites are powered using installed solar and wind generation and through existing street lighting.
  • We tested downstream renewable technologies, such as heat pumps, commonly used in homes, measuring performance in various conditions to establish their potential impact on future gas demand.
  • All data collected is managed in our innovative, real-time Cloud Data Solution. This system securely stores, processes and analyses the data as it communicates with the Real-Time Model.

Future benefits

Our Real-Time Network Model could be rolled out across the UK and be able to react to changing trends, allowing more informed asset decisions to be made. Our customers could benefit as decreased gas demand reduces leakage and maintenance requirements, which will reduce costs and associated carbon emissions. Our project is a key step to developing energy modeling on the network, which is essential to the networks use of low carbon sources, as we seek to decarbonise the nation’s heat.

Our full project results will be published here in 2020.