IGEM Gas Utilisation Conference

On Tuesday March 26th, Solutions for the Planet was invited to exhibit at IGEM’s Gas Utilisation Conference in Solihull.  Our West Midlands Programme Coordinator Sarah Milburn went along for the event:

Our partners IGEM invited us to have a stand at their 5th GU Conference at the National Conference Centre in Solihull to give us the opportunity to reach more of their members and recruit more mentors.

Simon Trollope , Head of Product and Market Development at IGEM, opened and noted that other things that happened on this day April 3rd – in 1973 the first mobile phone call was made; in 1981 the first commercially successful portable microcomputer was released; in 2010 the first iPad went on sale.  It was very interesting to reflect on how much technological innovation has happened in such a relatively short time in history, and a good segue into Neil Atkinson‘s introduction looking at how the gas industry will have to tackle the challenges it faces as we head into an increasingly de-carbonised world.

It was great to catch up with Chris Bielby , Director of Industry Liaison at SGN and long-time supporter of our programme, and Dave Goodall , Senior Engineer (Gas) at Steve Vick International Ltd, and talk about further ways we can collaborate with IGEM.  I spoke with Ben Kuchta too, who I would see again the following day as he was on our West Midlands Region Shortlisting judging panel!

The use of hydrogen as a fuel seemed to be high on the agenda.  Initially the work towards decarbonisation was through renewables such as solar and wind power, but the concern seems to be that these will not bring the CO2 levels down quickly enough.  A number of the speakers said that hydrogen has huge potential as a low-carbon fuel and needs to be recognised.

Matthew Lipson from Energy Systems Catapult gave an interesting talk on ‘The impact of smart controls on consumer behaviour’.  I have just had smart meters installed in my own home, and it was interesting to reflect on the fact that one of the big ‘sells’ of smart meters is that they will save you money, when in fact the digital technology involved can be very beneficial in lowering emissions rather than just cost.  I didn’t realise that domestic heating accounts for around 20% of total UK carbon emissions, so “decarbonising heat is the biggest challenge the UK faces in terms of transforming the energy system to meet carbon reduction targets and achieve our clean growth ambitions.”(source: https://es.catapult.org.uk/impact/projects/smart-systems-and-heat/)  The challenge is that the industry must make low-carbon heating as good as or better than what exists currently.

One of the other exhibitors was GATC, who were showcasing using VR as a training tool for testing compliance/competence.  It was such a great idea, it gives gas engineers who have been trained up the chance to put their theory into practice by exploring a VR simulation of a house with a gas leak. I had a go, blew myself up three times but did improve each time!  Had a good discussion with Phil Jenkins, GATC Director, about the use of VR being so wide-ranging – this kind of simulation could be used in so many other training opportunities, as well as with Health and Safety of kids and families and other non-industry stakeholders.

All-in-all, a very interesting and useful event – thank you for the invite to our national partners IGEM.


Written by: Sarah Milburn, S4TP Programme Coordinator, West Midlands / Communications Lead

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solutions for the Planet Ltd