The gas distribution grid operates on medium and low-pressure pipelines and supplies gas for the final customers. The main point where such a gas grid requires electricity is a pressure regulating station, where in some cases electricity connection can be tricky or costly due to large distances to the nearest electrical connection point. ESO together with Vilduja decided to test a gas microturbine generation solution, where gas pressure runs the microturbine and it provides a constant electricity supply for auxiliary equipment like telecommunications.
Microturbine was installed in one of the pressure regulating stations in Vilnius and was connected to the telemetry equipment. Due to existing pressure in the system microturbine can constantly generate electrical power (currently limited to 60W output) which is enough for the designated equipment, and batteries supply back-up if needed. The pilot project was tested for the whole year, including a different season as well as different consuming patterns.
Results showed that microturbine can be a reliable source of energy at certain times of the year when pressure on the gas system is stable. Problems might arise when consumption lowers during summer months and backup supply can struggle to supply power for a long period of time. In addition to that monitoring systems must be set up to monitor the power flows and battery status. So currently ESO will further investigate the potential of such a solution and evaluation will be made in each case where alternative costs will be compared.
More information about the project is provided in the link.