Research Underpinning Strategies for Increasing Residential Connections to the Gas Network
Strategies for Increasing Residential Gas Connections
Name: Jordan D. Hughes
Position: Masters Researcher
Full Project Title: Research underpinning strategies for increasing residential connections to the gas network
Funding Body: Gas Networks Ireland – Gas Innovation Group
Project Type: MEngSc
Period: July 2015 – 2017
EU energy and climate targets require through various policy mechanisms an increase in energy efficiency and in renewable energy and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Fuel switching away from carbon intensive fuels such as peat and coal to less carbon intensive fuels such as gas or renewables is one way we can contribute to meeting national binding policy targets. The utilisation of the gas network is affected by energy efficiency measures targeting households (i.e. lowering gas usage) and by fuel switching to gas and biogas (increasing gas usage).
This research project by UCC and ESRI focuses on the residential heating sector, where our understanding of fuel choice behaviour is very limited. Many households that are currently heavily reliant on peat, coal, or oil have the option to connect to mains gas but choose not to do so even though it would be financially advantageous for them to do so. This limits our ability to:
i) determine future gas network utilisation
ii) develop strategies for connecting more households to the gas network.
The research will identify socio-economic characteristics associated with a reluctance to switch to mains gas, using a combination of statistical and econometric analyses and survey methods. It will also identify early/late adopters of mains gas after it becomes available in an area. The team will use this information develop a mapping tool containing information on fuel usage, proximity to gas distribution network, household energy performance and socio/economic characteristics. This information and mapping tool will be useful to Gas Networks Ireland in developing strategies to increase the number of residential gas connections. The impacts of this will be to contribute to increasing energy efficiency, reducing residential GHG emissions and improving air quality (switching from oil and coal) and to lower average consumer gas costs (through increased gas network utilisation). The outputs may also be used to address energy poverty through a targeted approach of gas connection in combination with retrofitting.