Natural gas consumption specifics

Natural gas is one of the most widely used energy sources. It is used for industrial, commercial, and residential sectors – mainly for heating, electricity generation, and multiple industrial uses.

Unlike other conventional energy sources such as oil or coal that have relatively low transportation costs, in most cases – natural gas transportation requires higher investments. As a result, local and international markets are based on long-term contracts and one of the risk factors for natural gas distributors is demand uncertainty.

Therefore, accurate forecasting of the demand for natural gas is crucial for the efficient management of this resource.

Global natural gas consumption is expected to grow at an annual average rate of 0.8% from 2022 to 2025.

One of the particularities of natural gas consumption is that it is a system whose dynamics depend on meteorological data, day-to-week, year-on-year, and growth in the number of customers.

The permissible losses prescribed by law in the gas grid amount to a maximum of 3%, and all losses above, negatively affect the financial aspect of the distributor.

Forecasting of natural gas consumption

The Ordinance on the organization of the natural gas market has introduced significant changes for suppliers in the distribution system of the Republic of Croatia. The fundamental change is the introduction of nomination or delivery of forecast hourly gas consumption for the next gas day.

Duplico, in cooperation with the PTMG and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Zagreb, has developed an application for making such nominations based on neuronal networks.

Neural networks have the feature of a universal linear approximator, require a relatively small amount of historical data, and have the ability to adapt, which eliminates problems arising from natural gas consumption, small amounts of historical data, increased users, and possible reductions.

Points of download for gas consumption data

As the distribution areas of an individual supplier are divided according to the measurement-reduction units of the transport system operator, it is necessary to carry out measurements of gas consumption at these points.

This ensures the comparability of measurements with those of transport system operators and facilitates the processing of the data received for entry into the nomination system.

The consumption of natural gas by large consumers, mostly industrial plants, depends primarily on the state of production, and can not be linked to predictable factors of natural gas consumption. 

Therefore, a large-scale consumer encoder connects the meter to the day-to-day delivery to the large consumer and supplier of hourly consumption data.

Data download method

Data from readings and measurement-reduction cells are performed using telemetry cells that have the ability to connect to a closed VPN network with the static IP addresses of each individual cell.

Connectivity within the VPN network is realized through the GPRS / UMTS network of mobile operators, avoiding the installation of expensive telecommunication equipment and achieving secure, fast, and inexpensive data transfer.

For the successful design of the nomination, it is necessary to know the meteorological conditions that governed a certain reading of natural gas consumption. 

For this reason, an automated meteorological station is connected to the VPN network in the supplier area and sends its measurements to the supervisory control center every hour. 

The available meteorological stations are:

  • air temperature
  • relative humidity
  • wind direction
  • wind speed
  • amount of precipitation
  • cloudiness

Factors influencing gas consumption

Natural Gas Consumption is a system dependent on meteorological data, day to a week, seasonality, and the growth or decrease in the number of users.

The greatest influencer on gas consumption is the temperature, followed by precipitation, cloudiness, and winds.

However, depending on the geographic area and season where the supplier is located, different meteorological sizes gain or lose importance.

Nomination system description

The nomination system consists of fifty neural networks, polynomial functions, and a set of vague rules for decision-making.

The main problems that emerged in the design of the nomination program were the lack of archives of historical meteorological data on natural gas consumption and the conditions under which such consumption occurred.

For this reason, it is necessary to collect the data and create the archive before the nomination program is started. At low consumption in the system especially in the summer period, consumers that usually don’t count as big spenders have a significant impact, but they have a large consumption in comparison to household consumption. 

Such consumers are primarily asphalt bases and dryers.

Experience has therefore shown that appropriate solutions for the nomination of planned natural gas consumption can not be purchased on the market as a universal and pre-prepared.  

It is both important and beneficial to have long-lasting cooperation between the designers of the nomination program and the users in order to define, see and incorporate all of the particularities for the observed distribution area.

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