Cadent and Equinor plot hydrogen town in Lincolnshire

Gas grid operator Cadent and energy giant Equinor are exploring the feasibility of creating hydrogen towns within the Humber region, to assist with the UK's Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution.

Cadent and Equinor plot hydrogen town in Lincolnshire

Fossil-based hydrogen currently represents more than 95% of global annual production

Cadent and Equinor have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop the technical assessments and concepts for hydrogen production, storage, demand and distribution for heat. The two firms have outlined Lincolnshire as the area to develop hydrogen towns due to the number of hydrogen pilots being trialled in the Humber region. These include Equinor’s H2H Saltend for the wider Zero Carbon Humber scheme.

Equinor’s vice president of UK low carbon solutions Dan Sadler said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the Humber to target yet another ‘world first’ in the low carbon energy agenda, making it a beacon for global investment, innovation and economic growth.

“Hydrogen offers one of the few options to reduce domestic heating emissions and we see great value in these UK trials happening here. We can continue to build on the multiple exciting hydrogen proposals in the Humber, including the flagship Equinor project at Saltend, to make this region a real focus of expertise in this growing sector.”

The companies will assess how the gas networks could be converted for towns to access low-carbon hydrogen and the impact that will have on reducing emissions from home heating. Equinor and Cadent believe the switch could reduce emissions from an average UK town by around a quarter. However, fossil-based hydrogen currently represents more than 95% of global annual production.

Progress is also being made to create the first hydrogen village. Buildings in the village of Winlaton, near Gateshead, will be some of the first in the UK to trial natural gas blended with hydrogen. In total, 670 houses plus the local church, primary school and several businesses will all receive the hydrogen blend for a period of around 10 months starting early in 2021.

The project will be led by regional gas distributor Northern Gas Networks as part of the HyDeploy North East scheme, with assistance from Cadent, which delivers gas to more than 11 million houses and businesses in the UK.

The organisations are leading on numerous pilot projects that inject zero-carbon hydrogen into an existing gas network. HyDeploy is injecting hydrogen into Keele University’s existing natural gas network, for example, which supplies 30 faculty buildings and 100 domestic properties.

Cadent’s head of regional development Sally Brewis said: “Northern Lincolnshire is primed to play a major role in the UK hydrogen for heat revolution. With a Hydrogen Transmission Pipeline already at the detailed design stage, the potential for large-scale hydrogen production and storage nearby and a gas distribution network that is ready to be re-purposed, it’s clearly an ideal location for a Hydrogen Town pilot. We look forward to developing our plans with Equinor.”

Hydrogen hope

At the start of the year, Britain’s five major gas grid companies launched a major collaborative plan to create the UK’s first hydrogen town by 2030.

Published as part of Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) Gas Goes Green programme, the new hydrogen plan encompasses the five major gas network companies, Cadent, National Grid, Northern Gas Network, SGN & Wales & West Utilities.

Responsible for owning and operating the infrastructure that delivers gas to 85% of homes in Great Britain, the companies have committed to blending 20% hydrogen into local gas grids by 2023. This will help the UK meet the Ten Point Plan of creating a hydrogen production capacity of 1GW by 2025 and 5GW by 2030.

Under the Plan, the UK will aim to generate 5GW of “low-carbon” hydrogen production capacity by 2030. Up to £500m will be invested in a bid to create a Hydrogen Neighbourhood in 2023, a Hydrogen Village by 2025, and to create the first town running entirely on hydrogen.

Matt Mace

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