July 2020

Funded by the Network Innovation allowance (NIA), Utonomy are working with SGN and Wales & West Utilities to develop retrofittable technologies that will help all UK gas network operators in their drive to meeting decarbonisation, digitalisation and decentralisation goals quickly and with minimum disruption. Additional support and expertise is also being provided from SAITH, who have been recruited by SGN as a key technical consultant for this NIA project.

SGN, the gas distribution network that distributes natural and green gas to 5.9 million households in the UK, has awarded a significant new contract to intelligent gas grid solutions provider Utonomy.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas distribution network company that distributes gas to 7.5m people in Wales and the south west of England has also recently joined the project as a full funding partner.

The new contract with a budget of £860,000 is a second phase to the NIA (Network Innovation Allowance) project, to develop and trial Utonomy’s innovative new pressure control and management system. Phase One successfully developed and trialled the prototype version of the Utonomy system on SGN’s network. Phase Two will develop and test a significantly enhanced version of the system to ensure that it meets SGN and Wales & West Utilities requirements. Building on the success of Phase One, Phase Two will also test the system on a much wider range of pressure control assets.

The overall aim of the project is to develop an efficient and reliable pressure control and management system that will give SGN and Wales & West Utilities the ability to remotely adjust their governor stations. This will enable the companies to continually adjust the pressure in the network according to demand, not only reducing environmental impacts but also reducing the number of call-outs and regular planned visits to carry out seasonal adjustments of the governors.

Even in normal times, this provides a significant benefit in lower operating costs and freeing up skilled technicians for other essential tasks. During the current Coronavirus pandemic this becomes even more important as it will enable SGN and Wales & West Utilities to manage their networks with a minimum number of journeys to site.

The addition of a second phase extends the project from two to three years, with an expected completion date of April 2021.

Speaking about the contract, Utonomy CEO Adam Kingdon said: “We are delighted to be continuing our very successful partnership with SGN. We are also very pleased that Wales & West Utilities has decided to join the project bringing in additional expertise. This will enable us to complete the product development of our innovative pressure management system and to test it on a wide variety of pressure management assets. We are very pleased to get the chance to work with the highly experienced teams at SGN and Wales & West Utilities to develop our technology further.”

SGN Innovation Project Manager Mark Skerritt said: “We are delighted to continue our collaboration with Utonomy on this exciting project. The aim of the project is to provide the UK gas network with a new and unique pressure control and management system that is not only more efficient than existing systems but also enables network operators to confidently exercise ‘real time’ control over their governor assets.”

Wales & West Utilities Innovation Manager Lucy Mason said:

“We’re pleased to be joining this important project and to be working with SGN and Utonomy. It’s our ambition to help communities and the environment across Wales and south west England thrive by delivering reliable, affordable and sustainable energy long into the future, and we think that this technology could help us to do that, by improving the way we manage our gas network.”