IGEM seeks installer feedback on low pressure gas supplies

IGEM’s Low Pressure Supply Working Group is seeking industry comment on a number of recommendations designed to address the root cause of low supply issues on the gas distribution network.

IGEM’s Low Pressure Supply Working Group is seeking industry comment on a number of recommendations designed to address the root cause of low supply issues on the gas distribution network. 

Following a series of cross-industry meetings, IGEM’s Low Pressure Supply Working Group has concluded that low pressure is not a widespread issue and that the design of the UK distribution network remains fit for use with the majority of gas appliances currently on the market. However, it has acknowledged that over recent years there has been a progressive increase in the capacity of domestic boilers.

"The major reason for this is the increase in the average net heat input of domestic boilers being supplied, largely driven by the requirement for instant hot water for showers and baths,” said Ian McCluskey, IGEM’s Head of Technical Services & Policy. 

“As a result of the discussions, the group concluded that procedures put in place to deal with incidents of low pressure can vary dramatically across the industry. This can sometimes mean the customer is unable to use certain appliances once they are installed.”

The group also concluded there is a need for greater cooperation across the industry to improve communication and to increase the level of understanding of all aspects of the gas system across the board.  

“In particular, the group has identified a need for clarification on the pressure requirements for the low pressure supply system and for processes and procedures to be agreed across the industry,” said Ian.  

“It is hoped this will enable the various industry standards and guidance to become consistent in their requirements and will mean manufacturers’ instructions match those requirements,” he added.

The working group has developed a set of proposals to address the concerns of the industry, which cover limits on the normal kW capacity of a domestic gas supply service, harmonise procedures for installing appliances, and cover precommissioning, commissioning, post commissioning, conditions for reporting low pressure supply, how emergency service providers should respond and downstream testing methods for low pressure.

The Low Pressure Supply Working Group was formed by IGEM in response to a request from the Standards Consultation Forum (SCF), back in 2016. 

It is made up of representatives from British Gas, Cadent, DNV GL, Energy Assets, Global Energy, Heating and Hot Water Industry Council (HHIC), HomeServe, Health & Safety Executive, National Grid, Ofgem, OPGO, SGN, Tuffentech, and Wales & West Utilities.  

Following an increase in the number of complaints from installers concerning incidents of low pressure on the gas distribution network, the SCF instructed the operators of Cadent, SGN, Northern Gas Networks, and Wales & West Utilities, to investigate and formulate a response.

Unfortunately, many in the industry felt the resulting Energy Networks Association (ENA) gas industry bulletin did not sufficiently address the issue and IGEM was subsequently approached to carry out further work in this area.

The full proposals and industry comment form can be found at www.igem.org.uk/technical-services/comment-on-draft-standards. Those working in the gas industry are invited to read the proposals and supply comments by 26 August to technical@igem.org.uk or send them for the attention of Peter Hurst, IGEM Technical Officer, IGEM House, 26 & 28 High Street, Kegworth, Derbyshire, DE74 2DA.

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