Two for the price of one

05/02/2019 11:33
Annual Conference and Gas Utilisation 2018

Bringing together both the upstream and downstream arms of the gas industry, IGEM hosted its first combined Annual Conference & Gas Utilisation, at Leicester University’s Stamford Court, on 12-13 September 2018. The conference united the gas
world as the energy sector looks towards a more collaborative future, allowing gas engineers of all professional backgrounds to learn about the developments and technologies that are helping to create a low carbon energy system.

Delegates were able to mix and match the areas of the business they wanted to learn about, choosing from the following six themes: Safety & Emergency, sponsored by
DNV GL and chaired by Tim Roff, Reliability & Maintenance, sponsored by WRc and chaired by Simon Ayley, Distribution Mains Replacement, sponsored by Morrison Utility Services and chaired by Sean Kelly, Repair, sponsored by LinesearchbeforeUdig and chaired by Richard Broome, Security, sponsored by Lagoni Engineering and chaired by Thomas Olsen and Environment & low carbon, sponsored by Kiwa Gastec and chaired by Mark Eldridge.

Experts in each of these areas helped delegates to consider their future strategic role in the clean energy sector. The event was also an excellent opportunity to network with fellow IGEM members, make fresh business contacts and discover the latest innovations at our exhibition.

IGEM President Steve Edwards opened the conference by saying: “Once again IGEM has struck the right balance between people sharing their needs and requirements
with us and also some technical updates that are delivering those solutions. I would encourage you all to take full advantage of the opportunity to engage with us all,
network, share your ideas and take these challenges forward.”

Highlights included an excellent presentation on the UK climate challenge from Mike Thompson, Head of Carbon Budgets at the Committee on Climate Change. “The bad news is that climate change is happening pretty much as climate scientists predicted it would,” he said. “We shouldn’t be surprised by what is happening around us, but we should be alarmed because it has now moved from theory to reality. “My three-year-old daughter has lived through the three hottest years on record, and it’s only going to get much, much worse. This is the thing we have to take action to avoid.”

While global emissions have not fallen, said Mike, the world has agreed to take action to combat climate change, evidenced by the Paris Agreement signed in 2017. “The transition to a low carbon economy is underway, bringing opportunities as well as challenges,” he added.

Speaking on the subject of regulation and innovation, Geoffrey Randall, Deputy Director of Gas Network Price Controls at œOfgem, went over the aims of the second
round of RIIO price controls. “Network companies have made good progress, but we need them to go a step further in RIIO2, demonstrating payback to customers in their business plans,” he said. He added that Ofgem wishes to see a greater focus when it comes to network innovation spending on day-to-day customer experience issues, as opposed to the breakthrough innovation projects of the current regulatory period.

Gareth Davies, Gas Markets Strategy Manager at National Grid, presented on the future of gas. He looked at the behavioural changes that will be necessary to move the UK to a low carbon energy system. For example, low carbon solutions can be expensive and are not always practical – are we likely to see every home in the UK install a heat pump? “Gas is the ideal solution,” said Gareth, “and it provides better options for things like air quality, such as natural gas vehicles.”

Catherine Spriggs, Technical Project Manager at the Health and Safety Laboratory, has worked on the GDN-led HyDeploy, H100 and H21 hydrogen projects. She spoke about
the role of science in developing an evidence base for safety; looking at methods for studying appliance behaviour, network materials, hydrogen behaviours, fire and explosion characteristics and detection.

The System Two Assess & Seal Solution (STASS) project is a robotic crawler platform designed to assess the condition of joints in cast iron mains gas pipes, and to spray sealant fluid into the joint as a leak prevention technique. The STASS project is a Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) funded innovation project for Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and brings together a combination of three gas network approved technologies.

Synthotech Innovation Director Wez Little talked about the results of the project’s field trials and the importance of integrating innovation into an organisation’s business plans. Ian Butt, Director of Premtech, looked at the use of mobile virtual reality modelling, Technical Sales Manager Simon Buckley presented the Sarco Stopper gas stent and Derek Muckle, Director of Innovation and Technology at Radius Systems,
spoke about how his business is preparing for a hydrogen future.

At the end of day one, a panel session with the chairs from each of the themes covered allowed everyone to learn a little about what was discussed in all the sessions.

Day two highlights included a detailed run-through of the Hy4Heat research programme from Heidi Genoni, Programme Manager from Arup. Hy4Heat is a government funded initiative to explore the transition to hydrogen for domestic cooking and heating in the UK.

Vice President UK Operations at ULC Robotics Graeme Cleeton gave an engaging presentation on how robotic technologies have an integral role to play in the cities of tomorrow, particularly when it comes to the inspection and repair of underground assets. Managing Director of ProHeat Systems Stefan Romocki looked at how new pre-heating technologies are optimising gas temperature control for energy conservation on gas distribution networks. And Mo Javadi, Director of Engineering at Lagoni Engineering, presented on the importance of OT cyber security, looking specifically
at the challenges unique to the energy industry.

In between sessions and during the breaks, our delegates had the chance to mingle and network in the light and airy surroundings of Stamford Court, plus take in the latest technologies on show in our exhibition.

Thanks must go to our session chairs, plus our event sponsors Cadent, National Grid, SGN and Wales & West Utilities, and theme sponsors DNV GL, WRc, LinsearchbeforeUdig, Morrison Utility Services, Kiwa Gastec and Lagoni Engineering, for helping to make the event so successful.

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