Smart metering leak detection
This project aimed to investigate the use of smart meter data to provide safety and environmental benefits for gas networks, and how it might be achieved.
GL Industrial Services UK (DNV)
Summary: impacts and findings
The project aimed to analyse data gathered by smart gas meters and investigate how it could be used in identifying gas leaks and inefficient appliances, planning network maintenance and tracking, and helping to support the future introduction of hydrogen.
The project concluded that using gas smart meter data to identify dangerous gas leaks in households is possible, and identified a number of other potential applications.
Project aims and approach
The smart metering leak detection project aimed to assess how data already gathered by smart gas meters could be used for purposes other than billing, such as:
- To identify potentially dangerous gas leaks in buildings by comparing real-time data with previous patterns in gas consumption, and looking for anomalous usage. Unusually large gas flows through a meter could indicate a leak.
- For planned network maintenance and construction activities, to allow more efficient planning and operations especially where parts of the network need to be isolated, potentially cutting off the gas supply to a group of customers.
- To detect appliances that are performing inefficiently or potentially generating carbon monoxide.
- To detect problems on the gas networks outside the house. If multiple customer meters detect issues, it might be possible to determine supply problems or identify leaks on gas mains.
This technology could be applied to the current natural gas system, but will become even more relevant if the UK starts moving towards introducing hydrogen into the gas distribution system.
Establishing the technology and methodology to analyse real time gas usage data and mitigate risk is likely to be a critical step towards the use of net-zero energy systems.
Below you can watch a detailed ‘show and tell’ presentation about this project, recorded in July 2021.
GL Industrial Services UK (DNV)
April 2021 to June 2021
Achievements and barriers
The project demonstrated that using gas smart meter data to identify dangerous gas leaks in households is possible. Modelling showed that a large gas leak could produce measured flow rates far greater than those expected even if every gas appliance in the house was running simultaneously. Smaller leaks can also be identified, using a rule set for gas flow based on the gas use profile of the household.
During the project, and in conversations with a wide variety of stakeholders, several other applications for smart gas meter data were identified. These ranged from detecting gas theft to identifying homes suffering from gas fuel poverty. The study concluded that smart meter data could be used for these purposes but more data and user research is required.
The feasibility study demonstrated that it is possible to use smart gas meter data to detect leaks. Further refinement and development would be needed to move to a deployable product.
In order to detect appliances that are performing inefficiently, more work would be required to combine gas readings with other connected smart devices, such as boilers and thermostats. Detection of potential problems outside the home would require additional instrumentation, such as pressure sensors, built into the gas meter.
This project was not selected to progress to Phase 2 of the Modernising Energy Data Applications competition.