Cherwell District Council - gas network analysis

The gas network analysis was an investigation around the benefits and costs associated with the potential extension of the natural gas network into the three off-grid rural villages of Launton, Hook Norton and Cropredy in the Cherwell District Council area of Oxfordshire.

Local area statistics:

  • Detached (51%) and semi-detached (31%) are the most common house types across the three villages of Cropredy, Hook Norton and Launton.
  • Oil central heating (54%) and electric central heating (15%) are the most common domestic heating systems.
  • The overall share of fuel poor households is about 9% in Cropredy and Hook Norton and 6% in Launton.
  • The average energy performance asset rating is 48 (E rating band) and 98 (D rating band) for domestic and non-domestic properties respectively.

Cherwell District Council commissioned NEF to undertake a study to:

  • Quantify the specific impact of mains gas supply in terms of energy cost savings, reduced emissions of CO2, fuel poverty mitigation, health and wellbeing and economic development.
  • Explore commercial options offered by key gas suppliers operating in the area.
  • Investigate the views of local businesses and housing developers around the prospect of financial partnerships with Cherwell District Council.

Services we provided:

  • GIS-based mapping. A spatial analysis of the three villages via a geographic information system (GIS-based mapping) including the possible reach of the extension pipelines.
  • Building stock analysis. In-depth profiling of domestic and non-domestic buildings in relation to aspects such as built form, age band, building type, tenure type and energy use. 12 building archetype models were created.
  • Energy modelling. Archetyping work to identify reference buildings representatives of the local building stock. Each domestic archetype was subject to an energy assessment to estimate the heating energy end-use before and after mains gas uptake in order to ultimately assess the heating energy savings across all domestic properties for each village.
  • Business model. Benchmarking against gas network extension projects and partnering arrangements in other contexts. Consultation with gas suppliers to explore alternative business models and a survey of local businesses and Parish Clerks’ views around the project.

We found that a mains gas extension would have the potential to trigger a variety of potential benefits to the local villages:

  • Reduced energy use for space heating and domestic hot water uses (unregulated energy use such as cooking were not part of the study).
  • Reduced CO2 emissions compared to more carbon-intensive systems.
  • Reduced energy costs due to the cheaper gas tariff.
  • Wider societal benefits including fuel poverty alleviation and improved energy security.

We also discovered:

  • A general appetite in favour of natural gas from local businesses and the parish villages.
  • The project's feasibility was severely affected by the high upfront cost, which was the main deterrent to the business case.
  • The total investment cost for extending the gas network was about £10,000 per connection (customer). 
  • Alternative heating systems, such as renewable energy-based systems, should be considered as options.

A switch to gas was estimated to unlock, on average:

  • 27% savings in the energy use for heating and domestic hot water of domestic properties.
  • Around 50% and 80% reduction in the CO2 emissions of domestic and non-domestic properties.
  • Around 55% reduction in the energy cost for both domestic and non-domestic properties.
  • £750 annual saving per house.

Related services

Energy Policy & Strategy

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