Wales & West Utilities to trial Utonomy’s innovative biomethane feed-in solution

July 2021

Utonomy is delighted to announce this exciting new project to trial its biomethane feed-in technology in the field with Wales & West Utilities.

Biomethane produced from agricultural waste or other feedstock is often injected into the gas network, providing a renewable source of gas for heating homes. In the future, biomethane is expected to play a significant role in the decarbonisation of the gas network and the transition to net zero. However, one of the biggest constraints on its growth is having enough feed-in capacity in the network. Utonomy’s smart pressure control has been developed to solve this problem.

Biomethane plants typically feed in to the medium pressure tier of the gas distribution network. During the night or on warm days, there is often insufficient demand to take the full output of the plant, leaving the plant no option but to run below its potential capacity or in the worse case to flare the gas. This results in significant lost income for the plant and reduces the amount of renewable gas in the network, which is bad for the environment.

The Utonomy solution uses smart pressure control to vary the pressure in the network remotely, so that the biomethane feed-in is always prioritised and the natural gas feed-in is used as back up. This enables the output of the bio-methane plant to be optimised, thereby maximising the income for the biomethane plant as well as increasing the environmental benefits from the use of green gas. Utonomy’s smart pressure control also eliminates the need for teams of technicians to visit each of the governor sites, feeding the network three to four times per year to manually adjust the pressures.

The field trial is expected to start in Q4 2021 and will include installation of the Utonomy patented hardware on to the High Bickington pressure reducing station. The hardware will communicate with the Utonomy cloud-hosted software over the mobile phone network, enabling Wales & West to remotely monitor and control the pressures in the network. The objective is to increase the feed-in from the Great Hele biomethane plant during periods when this might otherwise be constrained due to low demand.

The Utonomy biomethane solution is based on the company’s smart pressure control technology for low pressure networks. This has been trialled extensively since January 2019 as part of an SGN and Wales & West Utilities NIA project.

Speaking about the project, Utonomy CEO Adam Kingdon said: “We are very excited to be working with Wales & West Utilities to trial our new technology for increasing biomethane injection.”

Wales & West Utilities Innovation Manager Lucy Mason said:

“Green gases like biomethane will help Wales and the UK meet our Net Zero targets, while delivering what people want and need: energy that is safe, reliable and sustainable

“We’re pleased to be working with Utonomy on this important project to maximise the amount of biomethane injected into the gas network.”