With two weeks to go until the UK hits the ballot boxes in its General Election, all the attention was today thrown on the compressed gases industry by the BCGA Annual Conference 2015.

The flagship event for the BCGA (British Compressed Gases Associaton), the conference was held at the Marriott Hotel and Country Club at Worsley Park, Manchester for the second successive year and addressed developments in what it coined, ‘The Invisible Industry’.

As current President Richard Gearing (BOC) explained in his opening speech, “Industrial gases are essential to the existence and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people in the UK every day. Gases and products support many strategic industry sectors that truly underpin the UK economy.”

“The industrial gases sector has traditionally been low key, rarely seeking the limelight for its activities - but things are changing. Increasingly, our companies are pioneering technologies that will be fundamental to the future prosperity of the UK, we’re helping to lead the way, including clean technologies, hydrogen fuel cells, LNG, CNG, and carbon capture sequestration and storage.”

This, he explained, is the invisible industry at play.

The theme of invisibility was carried throughout the day’s agenda, as the conference sought to highlight the often unseen progress made in the industry’s regulation and safe usage in end-user applications.

This began in earnest with a review of the BCGA Technical Committees’ publications and achievements. Technical Manager Jake Lake, along with Rob Thorley and David Hopper - representing two of the association’s Technical Sub Committees – provided a round-up of technical committee reports and key changes over the last 12 months – which gasworld understands proved to be a ‘particularly busy’ period for all involved. Indeed, there are now no less than 86 documents published and available from the BCGA.

The agenda then turned towards developments in the industry as a whole, with Dr. Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power, discussing Power-to-Gas: Storing Renewable Energy in the Gas Grid. Cooley described the challenges facing the energy sector and how it will need to adapt in the future, including some compelling statistics in favour of the Power-to-Gas business.

Luxfer Cylinders’ Mike Clinch explored advances in lightweight cylinder technology and considered the trend towards more integrated, system-level, design approaches - often extolling the virtues of aluminium not only in a range of commercial applications, but also in the quest for the safest, lightest and most effective cylinders. It was an interesting aside to hear that the Luxfer name actually originates from the Latin term ‘to carry light’ and comes from the company’s foundations in the manufacture of glass prisms; one might argue that with its advances in lightweight cylinders, the term ‘to carry light’ takes on a whole new context.

Other highlights on the speaking programme included Tanker Roll- Over Prevention Training from Dean Jordan, Director for CRYdel Ltd, Helium Supply - A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? by Richard Clark, a fellow of the Institution of chemical engineers, an exploration of The Landscape of the UK Brewing Industry Today by Stephen Livens, Policy Manager for the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), and an update on the crackdown on metal theft (and gas cylinders) from Detective Chief Inspector Alison Evans.

BCGA - February 2015

BCGA 2015

Source: BCGA

One of the day’s final presentations saw the BCGA’s own Doug Thornton, Chief Executive, take to the stage to cover a regular thorn in the association’s side - gas abuse and the media.

Thornton outlined some of the work the BCGA has been doing behind the scenes and with government departments, the media and other agencies to try and curb the sometimes sensitive issues around gas abuse. “Trade associations can make a difference with this if we engage with media and other organisations,” he explained. “Let’s continue to be vigilant.”

With the programme and plaudits played out, it was down to Gearing to close the conference, an event which attracted more than 140 attendees including representatives from both the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) and DfT (Department for Transport).

He concluded, “Well, I hope you enjoyed that today, I certainly did and I’m delighted that the variety and quality of the speakers met our expectations… Make sure you save the date in your diary for next year’s event, and we look forward to seeing you there.”

The BCGA Annual Conference 2016 will take place on 21st April, returning to Oulton Hall in Leeds.


Full review

Look out for a full review of the BCGA Annual Conference 2015 in the upcoming June issue of gasworld magazine.