Software allows renewable gases to be fed into gas grids
Variations in gas properties have been steadily increasing for some years. These variations are driven by the diversification of natural gas supplies and the growing number of biogas plants feeding into natural gas grids. In future these grids will also have to accommodate increasing quantities of hydrogen produced by power-to-gas plants using excess energy. These developments represent a great challenge for network operators who need to bill their customers with an accurately determined calorific value for the gas delivered.
The SmartSim method developed by E.ON allows gas flows in the pipeline network to be simulated so that the superior calorific value can be precisely determined at all exit points. It provides gas suppliers in service areas with several natural gas or biogas feed-in points with a tool for correctly billing their customers. The main advantage of this gas quality tracking tool is that in areas where bio natural gas is fed into the system, the superior calorific value no longer needs to be adjusted by adding propane (as is current practice). As a result, network operators save costs and avoid additional CO2 emissions.
Digital solution increases gas grid efficiency
The digitisation in the energy industry laid down by law on 1 September 2016 is a "done deal". Its aim is to promote the use of digital solutions and thus improve efficiency and save costs.
SmartSim is a good example of how this trend is playing out in the gas grid. The tool uses all digital data available (network topology, feed-in data, pressures) to accurately calculate the calorific values required for billing. The main benefit is that expensive measuring equipment is no longer needed and that different gases can be fed into the gas grid in a very flexible way.
The method is already being used successfully by a number of gas grid operators. The calorific values calculated using SmartSim are recognised by the Office of Weights and Measures and by the Federal Institute of Physics and Metrology (PTB) in the same way as "measured" values for gas billing.
Benefits of gas quality tracking for grid operators
- Correct customer billing even where gas qualities vary.
- Ability of the grid to accommodate different gases (natural gases, bio natural gas, hydrogen).
- Helps avoid costly alternatives (expensive instrumentation or gas conditioning to achieve the desired calorific value).
- Provides detailed knowledge of the gas quality distribution across the entire grid both in terms of time and location.
- Customer support for questions related to specific gas characteristics (Wobbe index, methane number etc.).