Date

January 2021

Audience

Domestic customers

Engagement

45 members

OBJECTIVES

The sixth meeting of our Citizens Panel (and the second one online) brought the group together to consider two specific aspects of the business’ future planning:

  • Our hydrogen vision; and
  • The Education and Skills strategy

The morning session focused on NGN’s hydrogen vision with three key objectives:

  1. To help members understand the proposal for hydrogen conversion of the network, and what it would mean for them, as one option for decarbonising heat in homes;
  2. To explore what, when and how customers want to engage with hydrogen, the information they believe is most important to share and where this information should come from;
  3. To understand how NGN can make the hydrogen house a useful and good experience for customers.

In the afternoon meeting the focus was on the Education and Skills strategy that NGN is developing. The objectives of the afternoon were to:

  1. Understand if, and why, customers think NGN should be delivering an education strategy;
  2. Explore what the objectives for an Education & Skills strategy should be;
  3. Understand where customers think NGN could have the most impact and the types of activities that would deliver on this.
Your comments & our responses

There was a clear preference expressed by members that engagement and information sharing about the transition to hydrogen needed to begin as soon as possible to allow customers to prepare for the potential gas transition

We are working with our partners in the gas industry to develop a public facing information campaign to help support understanding and raise awareness now, to help customers prepare for a future policy decision.

In discussing the type of information that was most important to give to the public to increase the awareness, interest and acceptability of transitioning to Hydrogen gas in the home the safety of having Hydrogen piped into their homes, the safety of Hydrogen appliances and Hydrogen storage was the overall priority identified by members (with 28 members making it their top choice).

Cost was clearly another key consideration, with the costs of Hydrogen ready boilers and appliances and the costs of Hydrogen to the consumer being ranked 2nd and 3rd most important overall when communicating about Hydrogen.

We will use this information to shape our own information and messaging around hydrogen and share this insight the other gas networks and government  to ensure the right information is made available and accessible to help customers understand what is involved in a hydrogen transition.

While members clearly felt there was a role for network companies like NGN and gas suppliers to help people prepare for a transition to Hydrogen, when it came to who should lead, there was a strong preference for this to be national government.

We have fed this back to the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and are working with the other gas distributors to develop a joint central communication campaign

Almost 2/3 of the panel members (64%) felt that the Hydrogen display home we are building should look and feel like the houses people are living in now. The rationale here was that showing people something they already have, and could retrofit, would reassure them. In the group discussions, there was a general consensus that (since two houses are being constructed) that the other house could be a smart home of the future.

We have designed the first home to reflect the houses people live in now, however  we will include some smart appliances and technology as well to allow people to see future ways of living.

Members were supportive of holding events in the house to attract visitors and identified a range of different types of events that they believed would work including links to the educational curriculum

We will work with our Young Innovators Council and education providers in the region to design a range of education activities and visits for the house and to provide a range of STEM focused career information.

Members identified 10 objectives that our education and skill strategy should focus on, but the ones supported most strongly was to focus on enabling high quality jobs for young people and increasing employability skills. Members also identified that we should focus on young adults 16+ in education.

We have reworked the focus of our strategy to prioritise a series of activities aimed at post 16 – this includes designing a structured work placement programme across the whole business, internships and growing our apprenticeship programme.

Secondary school aged young people were also highlighted as an important group for us to work with – particularly around Science, Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills​.

We plan to increase our focus on delivering STEM activities in schools and getting more employees to become STEM ambassadors to support work in schools and colleges across the network

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