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NGN welcomes Northern Energy Taskforce recommendations on hydrogen-for-heat but more must be done to recognise role of energy networks in government’s decarbonisation policy

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Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the gas distributer for the North of England, has added its support for the findings of the Northern Energy Taskforce strategy, which launches in Leeds today (Thursday 12th October 2017).

The 12-month study by the Northern Energy Taskforce, which includes senior players from the public, private, voluntary and academic spheres, sets out clean growth strategy for the North of England.

The report launched on the same day as the government’s Clean Growth Strategy and underpins many of the Westminster blueprint’s recommendations, including the references to hydrogen as a key pathway for meeting the 2050 challenge.

Mark Horsley, CEO at Northern Gas Networks said: “We welcome the government’s Clean Growth strategy and the inclusion of hydrogen’s potential as a key pathway for the 2050 energy mix which acknowledges the importantance of collaboration, network innovation and creativity in meeting the challenges we face.

“However the gas network remains a crucial piece of the decarbonisation jigsaw, and we believe more still needs to be done to give it a greater role in policy than it has today.

“Big challenges need big ideas, and the Northern Energy Taskforce strategy sets out a bold vision for how the North can become the leading low-carbon energy region in the UK by 2050, moving from cleaner to clean, to green.

“It spotlights how the North can make best use of its geological and geographical assets, its people and vast economic potential to generate green growth and jobs, and accelerate the pathway towards UK decarbonisation.

“We welcome the recommendations to speed progress for hydrogen-for-heat demonstrator projects and for the government to reinvigorate its interest in carbon capture and storage.

“We also encourage the strategy’s recommendation to consider all energy vectors in the design of future systems, in order to examine how through a whole systems approach the North can help deliver security of supply and cost efficiency while integrating more renewables.”

In 2016, NGN’s pioneering H21 Leeds City Gate study proved it was technically possible and economically feasible to convert the UK gas network to 100% hydrogen, at a realistic cost and with minimal customer disruption.

The H21 team is now working on a range of spin-off projects to fill evidence gaps around safety and domestic use, and prove the role hydrogen has to play in the UK energy mix.

NGN also launched its whole systems facility InTEGReL in Gateshead this September, in partnership with Northern Powergrid, Newcastle University and the EPSRC Centre for Energy Systems Integration.

InTEGReL focuses on bringing together the different energy types – gas, electricity and transport (oil) – allowing researchers and industry to carry out trials of coupled gas, electricity and heat systems at scale for the first time.

InTEGReL will explore new technologies aimed at delivering security of supply and a low carbon energy system while passing on cost benefits to customers, addressing the challenges of the energy trilemma.

Today’s Northern Energy Taskforce’s landmark study explores in detail the economic potential of the energy sector and the challenges it faces – which include:

  • Meeting the UK’s commitment to decarbonise by 2050 while ensuring the Northern economy grows, given its assets and historic dependence on energy
  • Making the most of the North of England’s natural assets to meets own power needs and exploiting this technology globally
  • Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and its impact on energy research; the impact of leaving the single market on energy prices, and the consequences of withdrawing from Euratom on the UK’s nuclear industry

Based on extensive research with key players in the sector across the North of England, as well as consultation within the sector, the strategy sets out a detailed vision to make the most of its energy assets.

It warns however that Whitehall policy has not been effective in helping the North adapt, being too far removed from growth opportunities, and recommends:

  • Central government strips the big six suppliers of energy efficiency responsibilities and hands councils and energy networks powers and funding for ‘local energy deals’ to make homes greener; roll-out solar panels, and help businesses become more environmentally sustainable.
  • The North of England is handed responsibility for its share of the UK’s carbon budget in a bid to help it manage its historical industrial base and incentivise green growth opportunities. Over time it would gain more powers over regulation and funding in return for progress.
  • Creating a new Northern Energy Accelerator to fund research and innovative green projects.

The report details how each of these might sit as part of a strategy to create 100,000 jobs and add £15billion a year to the northern economy.

Other recommendations include:

  • More flexible approaches to energy pricing and supply for key energy intensive foundation industries in the North;
  • A new Northern Low Carbon Homes commitment;
  • More rapid progress on carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen-for-heat demonstrator programmes;
  • Creation of a new Energy for the North body, like Transport for the North, to oversee the development and implementation of the strategy and take legal responsibility for the Northern Carbon Budget.

The strategy also identifies detailed action plans for a wide range of other renewable energy technologies such as offshore wind, tidal and bio-energy schemes.

The Northern Energy Strategy will be launched in Leeds on 12 October, with speakers set to include:

  • Sir John Harman – Chair, Northern Energy Taskforce
  • Ed Cox – Director, IPPR North
  • Cllr Judith Blake – Leader, Leeds City Council
  • Sir David King – Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change
  • Denise Massey – Managing Director, Energy Innovation Centre
  • Jim Cardwell – Head of Trading and Innovation, Northern Powergrid

Sir John Harman, chair of the Northern Energy Taskforce and former Environment Agency chair, said: “If government is going to make further progress on the Paris agreement it requires a step-change in its approach.

“For instance, devolving carbon budgets would mean the North is responsible for its own destiny and turn a national policy-headache into northern prosperity, creating up to 100,000 of tomorrow’s green jobs.

“If it’s serious about spreading growth across the country, while meeting decarbonisation goals, the government must take this issue seriously and give the North of England real powers to kickstart a local energy revolution.”

Anyone that smells gas or suspects Carbon Monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

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Young people encouraged to get creative in promoting carbon monoxide awareness

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The companies which are responsible for running the gas networks across Great Britain have launched their annual creative safety competition to raise awareness of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

The Gas Distribution Networks (GDN’s) Cadent, Northern Gas Networks, SGN and Wales & West Utilities are looking for entries from children aged between 5 and 11, in any form of media, such as eye-catching cartoons, videos, models, short stories or poems that are informative and accurate in warning of the dangers of CO poisoning.

Tom Bell, Chair of the GDN CO Best Practice Group and Northern Gas Networks’ Head of Social Strategy said: “The GDN’s are committed to raising awareness of CO and are pleased to launch the safety competition for 2018 – a key activity in highlighting the dangers of CO poisoning in schools, homes and workplaces across Great Britain.

“Every year the GDN’s are further impressed by the level of understanding and creativity that goes into making the competition entries and are encouraged the CO safety message reaches not only the students, but their friends and families in the community as well.”

The competition will run until Friday 4 May on a regional level by each GDN and is open to students in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 (ages 5 – 11) across Great Britain. Winners from each region will be invited to a special award ceremony to be held in July 2018, where the national winner will be announced. All winners will receive a prize for themselves and for their school.

All competition entries should be submitted to: COSafetyCompetition@energynetworks.org

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£45k upgrade to gas network on Kings Road, Harrogate

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The North of England’s gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks (NGN), is investing some £45k to upgrade the ageing metal gas mains on Kings Road, Harrogate.

The major project is part of NGN’s ongoing investment in the area’s and will involve replacing more than 100m of existing metal gas mains with more durable plastic pipes to ensure the continued, safe and reliable supply of gas to customers for years to come.

The four-week project, which is due to start on Monday 16 October, has been carefully planned in conjunction with North Yorkshire County Council.

Due to the location of the gas main and in-order to carry out the works safely and efficiently, it will be necessary to introduce various temporary traffic management measures.

A road closure (eastbound) will be in place from the junction of Cheltenham Crescent to the junction of Parliament Street, for approximately three-weeks. In addition, a road closure will also be in place on Union Street, and traffic at the junction of Parliament Street and Kings Road will also be affected. A clearly sign posted diversion will be in place for motorists.

It’s expected these works may cause some delays to journey times, so motorists are advised to leave extra time for travel whilst the temporary traffic signals are in place. NGN will endeavour to complete these works as soon as possible, and will provide updates on progress throughout the project.

Shops and businesses in the area will remain open as usual.

NGN’s Customer Care officers have been door-knocking local homes and businesses to make customers aware of the project, whilst signage will advise motorists of the work taking place.

Robert Hope, Construction Services Area Manager for Northern Gas Networks, said: “We have worked closely with the North Yorkshire County Council to carefully plan these works and will be doing all we can to minimise disruption to customers.

“We will endeavour to complete the project as quickly and safely as possible and will keep customers updated as the work progresses. We would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience caused during these works and thank everyone for their patience and support while we carry out this essential upgrade.”

For further information about the project please contact NGN’s Customer Care Team on 0800 040 7766 or email: customercare@northerngas.co.uk.

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Northern Gas Networks launches the annual £50k Community Promises Fund

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Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has this month (October) launched its annual £50,000 Community Promises Fund, in partnership with Leeds Community Foundation (LCF), to support local communities across the north of England.

The NGN Community Promises Fund will once again offer grants of £1,000 to £10,000 to third sector organisations and community groups with innovative approaches to delivering sustainable initiatives in council areas of the North of England served by NGN. LCF, a charity dedicated to creating positive change in local communities, will manage the new fund and distribute grants to successful applicants.

Started in 2016, the Community Promises Fund supports projects, events and initiatives which help to alleviate hardship and other challenges associated with fuel poverty, educate around energy efficiency ideas and raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Funding is also available to groups who encourage people to get involved with STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and related career opportunities.

Tom Bell, Head of Social Strategy at Northern Gas Networks, said: “I’m delighted to announce that we will, once again, be working in partnership with Leeds Community Foundation to support charities and local community groups across our network.

“Last year we received such a diverse range of ideas and innovative projects and it was a pleasure to see some of the great work that’s done within communities. I’m very much looking forward to again working with the successful organisations on their exciting projects.”

Last year, NGN offered grants to 11 different projects across the North of England ranging from the 2168 Yeadon Air Cadets, who explored created their own carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, to the Yorkshire Energy Doctor, which tackles fuel poverty and helps residents make their homes warmer and healthier.

Kate Urwin, from Yorkshire Energy Doctor, said: “Thanks to funding from the Community Promises Fund we have been raising awareness of the risks of CO amongst households in Bradford. So far we have provided training to over 100 members of staff from frontline organisations including Age UK, Horton Housing and a community nursing team. These staff come into contact with vulnerable people on a day-to-day basis so are in the best place to disseminate such important information within communities who in many cases were unaware of the dangers of CO poisoning.

LCF’s Chief Executive, Sally-Anne Greenfield, said: “We are delighted to again be working with Northern Gas Networks on this fantastic fund which will help to alleviate issues such as fuel poverty and help generate awareness and education surrounding energy efficiency. We will be working with other community foundations across the North of England to ensure the money is distributed to the projects and initiatives which can help those most in need.”

The deadline for all Community Promises Fund applications is Thursday 19 October, with successful applicants receiving grants by the end of November. For more information on how to apply visit: www.leedscf.org.uk/northern-gas-networks-community-fund

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Energising the North and helping to create 20,000 jobs by 2050

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Back in January, Northern Gas Networks launched a report at the House of Commons highlighting what the economy might look like in the north if the UK heat network was de-carbonised.

The report (PDF document), commissioned by KPMG and titled Energising the North, demonstrates how the Northern energy economy is leading the de-carbonisation agenda in the UK through pioneering projects such as our H21 Leeds City Gate project, the Smart Grids Centre at Newcastle University, the Siemens wind turbine plant in Hull and the extensive electric car manufacturing by Nissan in Sunderland.

It also calls on the government to make low-carbon energy a centre-piece of its Industrial Strategy for the North. This is part of the report’s four-part plan, which calls for continued investment in the Northern energy economy as well as research and development and for the whole energy sector to work together and share innovative ideas to achieve full de-carbonisation by 2050.

The report details the huge contribution the energy sector in the North already makes to the regional and UK economy. From 1997 to 2014, the Northern energy sector accounted for almost a quarter (23 per cent to be precise) of the total UK economic value for the energy sector. In 2014, the Northern energy sector also contributed some £3.5billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the regional and UK economy.

The report also finds that the energy sector has the potential to increase growth across the North by up to £2.3billion a year by 2050. This growth would be built upon existing capabilities and exploit opportunities in smart power, de-carbonised gas and transport. By making the most of these opportunities, the Northern energy sector can create an additional 20,000 jobs.

Additionally, putting the benefits of de-carbonising the UK heat network a-side for a moment, there are huge benefits for the local economy as well. Currently, 10 of the 12 most declining UK cities are in the North of England. So creating these additional jobs could also create a lifeline for local people.

So, what next? There is a lot of work to be done, but initiatives such as our H21 Leeds City Gate project show that conversion to a hydrogen gas network is achievable and demonstrates the way in which the north is leading the rest of the country in de-carbonisation technology.

The new £30m InTEGReL research facility in Gateshead, that we have launched in partnership with Newcastle University, Northern Powergrid and supported by the National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), is also creating the opportunity to carry out trials and experiments of coupled gas, electricity and heat systems for the first time.

Now the government needs to work across the region and show the rest of the UK that transforming the energy sector is at the heart of their Industrial Strategy and to make low-carbon energy investment a centre piece of its strategy for the North.

David Gill
Head of Customer Energy Solutions

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Northern Gas Networks to start work on Killingworth Road, Gosforth as part of £13.5m city council project

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Newcastle City Council’s project to widen Killingworth Road in Gosforth, and install a new Metro bridge at a well-known pinch point, reaches a new milestone next week as Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the North of England’s gas distributor, begin essential gas mains diversion works.

The major project, to divert three gas mains away from the section of carriageway due for improvement, will begin on Monday 2 October (although some trial holes have been carried out prior to this) and is due to be completed by mid-March, 2018.

Once NGN have completed their set of works the road will reopen, although Newcastle City Council will be carrying out some further works to widen the pavement and install bus, cycle and car lanes.

Andy Coyne, Major Projects Lead for Northern Gas Networks, said: “This is a major project and we have been working closely with Newcastle City Council to carefully plan these works and ensure disruption for road users and local residents is kept to a minimum.

“We would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused, and thank our customers for their patience as we aim to complete the works as quickly and as safely as possible.”

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Newcastle City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality, said: “Now that the new wider Metro bridge is in place, we need essential gas works completed before we can build the new carriageway.

“This is a complex part of the scheme and we have been working closely with Northern Gas Networks to plan this stage, but once complete we can re-open the road.”

Newcastle City Council’s £13.5m project will see Killingworth Road widened to reduce congestion, improve air quality, provide more efficient bus routes and make it easier and safer for people on bike and foot. Further details about the project can be found on Newcastle City Council’s website.

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Cutting edge £30 million energy research and development facility opens in Gateshead

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Northern Gas Networks launched its InTEGReL facility on 11 September, in partnership with Northern Powergrid, Newcastle University and the EPSRC Centre for Systems Integration (CESI).

InTEGReL is a unique facility which focuses on the whole systems approach: bringing the different energy systems – gas, electricity and transport – together, as part of NGN’s work to develop a fully-integrated, zero-carbon energy network moving from cleaner to clean to green.

The launch event was attended by more than 80 stakeholders from the worlds of industry, business, government and academia and supported by around 30 NGN colleagues, with visitors touring the site to learn more about the different technologies and projects planned to take place.

To find out more please visit the InTEGReL page.

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Northern Gas Networks supports national Gas Safety Week by informing customers about their Priority Service Register

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Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the North of England’s gas distributor, is pleased to be supporting Gas Safety Week this week (18 to 24 September) – a national safety campaign to raise awareness about gas safety and the importance of taking care of gas appliances.

As part of Gas Safety Week, NGN are using the national campaign to inform people about the Priority Service Register (PSR).

The PSR, is a free and confidential service offering additional help and support from gas and electricity providers. By registering on to the PSR, energy companies can tailor their services and communications to make sure customers are receiving the best possible service.

Customers will also receive extra support with their day-to-day energy needs, different bill formats such as braille or large print, help accessing their meter or support if there is a power cut or gas emergencies.

Tom Bell, Northern Gas Networks Head of Social Strategy, said: “I am delighted that Northern Gas Networks is supporting Gas Safety Week, especially as it gives us a platform to highlight the Priority Service Register (PRS).

“The PRS is a free and confidential service that offers some of our vulnerable customers the extra support that they might need from their gas or energy supplier.”

Anyone who wishes to register for the PSR service should contact their gas supplier who will let them know if you’re eligible for this scheme.

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Northern Gas Networks supports national Gas Safety Week by informing customers about lockable cooker valves

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Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the North of England’s gas distributor, is pleased to be supporting Gas Safety Week this week (18 to 24 September) – a national safety campaign to raise awareness about gas safety and the importance of taking care of gas appliances.

The seventh annual Gas Safety Week, organised by the Gas Safety Register, sees organisations from across the UK working together to encourage all gas consumers to make sure they have their gas appliances are checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer and protect against the dangers of unsafe gas appliances, such as fires, leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Tom Bell, Northern Gas Networks Head of Social Strategy, said: “As part of Gas Safety Week we are using the national campaign to inform people about our lockable cooker valve service.

“We understand that our vulnerable customers including people with dementia, Autism, those suffering strokes and many other conditions require extra safeguarding in place. A locking cooker valve helps vulnerable customers retain their independence at home and provides reassurance to family, friends and carers.”

This simple safety device is fitted to existing gas cooker pipework. When the valve is locked, the gas supply to the cooker is stopped. This removes the risk of the cooker being unintentionally turned on or left on. It also provides peace of mind to the carer or relative, that the cooker can’t be used when they leave the house or room.

The carer or relative can easily turn the valve on using the key when the cooker is required, therefore enabling the vulnerable person to continue to use their gas cooker safely.

Mr Hodgson, a resident of Chopwell who is carer for his wife, said: “Anyone that needs one would be silly not to get one, they could be a life saver. I feel reassured that my wife will be safe when I leave the house, all due to this valve. I can’t thank you enough.”

NGN are working in partnership with the other UK gas distribution networks to offer this free service nationwide, regardless of who the gas supplier is. There is no requirement to change gas supplier, nor inform the gas supplier of the device. Customers can currently apply online.

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Northern Gas Networks supports national Gas Safety Week by telling customers the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning

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Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the North of England’s gas distributor, is pleased to be supporting Gas Safety Week next week (18 to 24 September) – a national safety campaign to raise awareness about gas safety and the importance of taking care of gas appliances.

The seventh annual Gas Safety Week, organised by the Gas Safety Register, sees organisations from across the UK working together to encourage all gas consumers to make sure they have their gas appliances are checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer and protect against the dangers of unsafe gas appliances, such as fires, leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Tom Bell, Northern Gas Networks Head of Social Strategy, said: “I am delighted that Northern Gas Networks is supporting Gas Safety Week, which runs from 18 to 24 September, to remind people about the dangers of CO poisoning.

“CO is a poisonous, colourless and odourless gas that can cause serious harm to health including brain damage, paralysis or even result in death so it is really important to have an alarm fitted and to notice the warning signs.”

In 2016, 424 suspected CO emergencies were reported to NGN. Of which, 38 were confirmed escapes that resulted in an appropriate course of action.

Jonathan Samuel, managing director for Gas Safe Register, said: “It’s great to have the support of Northern Gas Networks this Gas Safety Week. By working together we can reach more people and help to reduce the number of dangerous gas appliances that could be lurking in the homes of the UK’s 23 million gas consumers.”

Anyone can also support national Gas Safety Week and help keep themselves, as well as their family and friends, safe by following these safety tips:

  • Always use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit, fix and service gas appliances
  • Always ask to see an engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card and check the back of the card to ensure they are qualified to carry out the specific type of gas work
  • Find a Gas Safe registered engineer in your area by calling 0800 408 5500
  • Have all your gas appliances, including boilers, gas cookers and gas fires, safety checked every year
  • Unsafe gas appliances can put you at risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions
  • Recognise the symptoms of CO poisoning – Headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness
  • Check gas appliances for warning signs that they are not working properly, e.g. lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks or stains on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room
  • Buy a CO alarm for your home and make sure it is located near to your gas appliances in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidance
  • Only use gas appliances for their intended purpose, e.g. don’t use a gas oven to heat a room or use a gas barbeque inside the house or a tent
  • Always ensure there is enough ventilation for your gas appliances to allow them to burn correctly and make sure you are not blocking any air vents that provide an air supply
  • Anybody working with gas has to be Gas Safe registered by law. Report someone working without registration or call Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500

For further information about Gas Safety Week and events taking place in your area, visit: www.gassaferegister.co.uk.

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

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