The Local Transmission System (LTS) is the backbone of our energy network, delivering gas from National Transmission System (NTS) offtakes to towns and cities across the country.
Gas distribution networks manage around 11,000km of these high-pressure pipelines, which were originally designed to transport and store natural gas. The LTS takes gas from the National Transmission System at a reduced pressure, so that it can be transported directly to industry. It also feeds into gas distribution networks to be used in homes and by businesses after further reductions in pressure. An important function of the LTS is to store gas when demand is low, so we have a resilient supply of gas covering peak times in the day and periods of cold weather. This use of storage is known as linepack and is critical to ensuring security of supply on a daily basis.
Part of the National Hydrogen Programme is to ‘define the role of the LTS in system transformation and facilitating industrial clusters’. With Scotland and the UK targeting net zero by 2045 and 2050 respectively, SGN is preparing the gas network for greener alternatives like hydrogen.
Hydrogen offers the best opportunity to achieve the scale and volumes needed to deliver zero-carbon heat and transport, so our local transmission systems will have to adapt to carry it. Hydrogen has slightly different properties and behaves differently to natural gas; therefore, it is critical to assess how that impacts on our existing LTS infrastructure.
Our LTS Futures project will research, develop, test and evidence the compatibility of LTS assets, pipelines, associated plant and ancillary fittings with hydrogen. The project will end with a first-of-its-kind repurposing trial and demonstration. The pipeline we’re using in this live trial is statistically representative, which will help us develop a blueprint methodology for repurposing the LTS in Great Britain’s network for hydrogen.
Delivery of the project will enable wide-scale system transformation of the UK gas network to hydrogen, driving decarbonisation. In April 2022 we secured funding of £29.9m through energy regulator Ofgem and Gas Distribution companies to deliver the project.
The project will be based in Grangemouth, Scotland, and delivered with support from global chemical company, INEOS, which has extensive manufacturing and infrastructure facilities in the region. The INEOS industrial cluster at Grangemouth could also be a key location for future hydrogen production at scale. Andrew Gardner, Chairman INEOS Grangemouth, said: “We believe that Grangemouth is the ideal location in Scotland to create a hub for hydrogen production, use and export. In January we announced the next step in our plans to build a world-scale low-carbon hydrogen plant at Grangemouth as we commit to being Net Zero by 2045. This trial, in partnership with SGN, will play a vital role in helping to make hydrogen networks a reality, delivering cleaner fuels for both homes and businesses alike.”
The project launched in April 2022 and will run for three years until the completion of the live trial of the LTS pipeline in March 2025. Delivery of the LTS Futures project will support critical future heat policy decisions, providing understanding on the role of our extensive LTS in achieving net zero for our networks in Scotland and the south of England, and beyond. LTS Futures also supports our other critical system transformation projects helping us towards a net zero future.