Gas Transmission Innovation

Innovation is a key stakeholder priority for National Gas, supporting the business to deliver gas reliably and safely to our customers today.

The future of our network depends on finding a suitable ‘green’ alternative to natural gas, that will continue to deliver heat and power to home, businesses and industry.

That’s why innovation activities that focus on achieving net zero are at the core of our work.

Our Innovation Technology Portfolios

As a team, we have five innovation technology portfolios, each with its own technology roadmap and specific project pipeline;

Asset development for risk mitigation: focuses on developing our understanding of our current asset landscape and its capability with future net zero gases.

Automation and measurement: focuses on all sensing systems within the gas transmission network, as well as assessment methodologies such as the use of pipeline inspection gauges and robotic assessments.

Digital systems and simulation: links with automation and measurement to develop Internet of Things (IOT) solutions that provide real insights for our gas transmission teams.

Materials and processing: focuses on solutions to help improve our materials resistance for current and future scenarios, while developing novel techniques to maintain our National Transmission System (NTS) assets.

Business process and management: focuses on the operation of the NTS and builds an understanding of how this may evolve with market changes through the energy transition.

Innovation Funding Mechanisms

As part of the RIIO-2 price control, there are two funding mechanisms that facilitate innovation across the gas industry; the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) and the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).

Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) – provides an allowance to fund smaller scale projects. NIA funding provides an opportunity to develop innovation programmes across the gas industry that focus on the energy transition and vulnerable customers. Drivers for the NIA are:

  • Research and development – encouraging operational and technological innovation
  • Collaboration and dissemination – working with external partners to solve problems and share new learning
  • Customers and strategy – focusing on solutions that deliver direct financial value to our customers

Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) - The SIF is the replacement for the Network Innovation Competition (NIC) and is intended to support innovation activities that contribute to the achievement of net zero and deliver real benefits to both network companies and consumers. 

Where SIF funding is concerned, Ofgem will set the strategic direction using innovation challenges. Following this, network companies will be invited to apply for funding, by submitting suggestions that address these challenges. 

SIF projects are split into three phases: 

  • The Discovery phase focuses on enhancing the understanding of the problem that needs to be solved and will typically take between 6 and 8 weeks to complete
  • The Alpha phase looks at trying out different solutions to the problem identified and will typically take between 10 and 20 weeks to complete 
  • The Beta phase focuses on deploying the solution in a real-life environment, while continuing to make improvements. The duration of the Beta phase depends on the scale and complexity of the solution being deployed and will likely be the longest duration and largest scale phase of the SIF process

Our Innovation Strategy 

Find out more about our innovation portfolio, our focus areas, key technologies we want to investigate further and some of the key challenges we face in our latest Innovation Strategy document for 2023

RIIO-2 Innovation Annual Summaries

Find out more about our innovation activities and read our latest Innovation Annual Summary for 2022/23, published in July 2023.

National Gas Innovation Annual Summary 2022/23
National Gas Innovation Annual Summary 2021/22

Key documents 

Annual Innovation Summary

The energy networks and underlying infrastructure are critical enablers in Great Britain’s (GB) decarbonisation journey to delivering a successful and rapid net zero future. In service of these decarbonisation goals, the networks invest millions of pounds each year into innovative projects to develop a greener, more reliable, efficient and accessible energy system of the future. This report reflects on the progress networks have made in FY23, with a specific focus on RIIO-2 funded innovation.

Innovation Value Report

In April 2017, we published a first-of-its-kind innovation value mid-term report. Benefits realised to date include £6.9m, demonstrating a positive benefit ratio of approximately 4:1 against cost incurred across the 10 case studies featured in the report, with significant opportunity for future benefits.

Gas Network Innovation Strategy

The Gas Network Innovation Strategy sets out the challenges and the opportunities facing the gas transmission and distribution networks in continuing to provide benefits to our customers within the energy systems of the future.

Produced in consultation with our stakeholders, the Strategy sets out the role that our existing gas infrastructure can play in meeting demand for power, heat, and transport in a low carbon economy. It details our approach based on seven themes: the future of gas; safety and emergency; reliability and maintenance; repair; distribution mains replacement; environment and low carbon; and security.

Read our 'at a glance' summary of the Gas Network Innovation Strategy or download the full Gas Network Innovation Strategy below.

Conference Presentations

Here you can download the latest presentations and materials presented by our team at a range conferences and events.

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Data Sharing Policy for NIA and NIC Projects

Following revisions to the NIA and NIC Governance documents that were published by Ofgem on 30 June 2017, Ofgem has introduced a requirement for us to make available certain network and consumption data we gather in the course of a NIC- or NIA-funded project.

The purpose of this data sharing policy is to make clear how such network or consumption data can be requested by interested parties and the terms on which we will make such data available.

This policy applies to the network data and consumption data arising in the course of a NIC- or NIA-funded project which is not commercially confidential or sensitive.

In accordance with the dissemination requirements of the NIC/NIA governance framework, we already publish much of the data arising from our NIC/NIA projects. You may wish to check this before making an application under this policy, in case the data which you are seeking has already been published.

Gas Innovation Funding Incentive (IFI) reports

As part of our regulatory requirements, we reported on progress for research and development projects to Ofgem. The following library of IFI Annual Reports provides detail on our full portfolio of IFI projects for the relevant period.

Our stories

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Impact of hydrogen and hydrogen blends on linepack

We're investigating the impact that 100% hydrogen and blends of hydrogen will have on linepack in the NTS, through this Innovation project

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Floating hydrogen molecule bubbles

Multiple Gas Detection

We're running a project to identify and test gas sensor technologies capable of detecting varying blends of natural gas and hydrogen.

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Safe venting and recompression of hydrogen

We’re exploring the use of venting and recompression systems to capture gas emissions, for injection back into the network.

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Variable gas blend measurement system development

We’re running a desktop study to assess the capability of our existing gas measurement assets when exposed to different hydrogen scenarios.

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National Gas Homepage Banner

Hydrogen production technology innovation project uses advanced 3D scanning technology for first time

We’re running a project investigating the use of hydrogen production technologies to create hydrogen from methane and use this as a cleaner fuel gas on site.

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Common Planning Pathway

We're running a project exploring pathways to Net Zero across the whole energy system, including electricity, natural gas and hydrogen.

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HyNTS Compression

We’re working to build our understanding of how our current compression equipment can be repurposed for hydrogen and hydrogen blends.

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Hydrogen fuel gas for NTS compressors

We're looking at the opportunity for fuelling our existing gas turbines with hydrogen blends and 100% hydrogen

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Hydrogen production technology

We're investigating innovative hydrogen production technologies which create hydrogen from methane

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Precision thermography for hydrogen pipeline inspection

We’re running a project exploring the opportunities of using thermographic technologies as a pipeline inspection technique

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We’re working to reduce emissions across our network…

We’ve been looking at ways to potentially reduce the emissions from our compressor equipment, using innovative solutions that can capture gas releases for re-use across the network

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HyNTS Deblending

Through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) process, we have been looking at the concept of gas separation or ‘deblending’ of the gases within the high-pressure National Transmission System (NTS) to enable delivery for transport applications

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Fire and gas detection and suppression

We’re running a project looking at the potential alternatives for fire and gas detection and suppression systems for both 100% hydrogen and hydrogen blends

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NTS materials testing to enable hydrogen injection in high-pressure pipelines

We’re running this project to evaluate the pipe grades that have been used to construct the NTS, to see how they perform with high-pressure hydrogen

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HyNTS Protection

Through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) process, we’re exploring different technologies that will support a hydrogen transition by halting or reducing the rate of hydrogen permeation into gas assets

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Multifunctional graphene coatings for pipeline protection

We’re running a project looking at whether we can use graphene as a protective barrier within pipelines to reduce the risk of embrittlement or as an additive to improve the performance of the paints used to protect the external surfaces from corrosion

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Hydrogen impact on cathodic protection and degradation of coatings

We’ve been running a project researching the impact that hydrogen blends may have on protective coating adhesion and Cathodic Protection performance

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HyNTS Pipeline Dataset

Through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) process, we’re exploring the opportunities to improve pipeline assessment and the available data, to help accelerate the adoption of hydrogen as a net zero energy source

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Collaborative Visual Data Twin Phase One

The introduction of hydrogen into our network adds complexity which could be managed and supported by digital tools. In January 2022, we started a project looking at developing a robust, low-cost solution for combining virtual twins and data twins into a single, robust digital twin

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Dynamic risk-based patrolling

As we transition our network to carry hydrogen, we require our network patrolling activities to be more dynamic, so in November 2022, we started a project looking at which advanced analytics tools can be used to optimise the process

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New pipeline AI route planning

In June 2022, we started a project looking at the ways that an AI based tool or platform could be used to enable rapid exploration of potential pipeline routing options

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Hydrogen deblending feasibility phase two

Our hydrogen deblending feasibility phase one project was undertaken looking at the feasibility of gas separation or deblending technology. In our phase two follow up project, we further developed the concept of deblending by looking at the engineering requirements and associated marketing framework

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Hydrogen skills and competencies

We’re focusing on proving the capability of the National Transmission System (NTS) to transport hydrogen, using the existing assets on our network. Before we can make this transition, we need to ensure we develop the required skills and competencies within our business. We’re running a project to develop methodologies for both skills training and hydrogen competencies for the UK gas industry

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Identification of NTS opportunities in the transport sector

Hydrogen is expected to be used directly in combustion engines, fuel cells and in the creation of sustainable aviation fuel. In addition to these large-scale opportunities, transport is expected to be one of the early markets for hydrogen. We’re running a project to investigate the requirement for hydrogen and hydrogen derived fuels within the UK

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Technical and commercial impact of high-pressure carbon transportation

We’re running a project looking at the opportunity of using the gas network to provide transportation for carbon