Major gas grid companies team up to outline hydrogen deployment plans

Britain's five major gas grid companies have launched a major collaborative plan to create the UK's first hydrogen town by 2030 as well as creating a network of hydrogen refuelling stations for transport and helping to decarbonise industrial clusters.

The companies are responsible for owning and operating the infrastructure that delivers gas to 85% of homes in Great Britain

The companies are responsible for owning and operating the infrastructure that delivers gas to 85% of homes in Great Britain

Hydrogen is one of the key pillars of the UK’s Ten Point Plan to drive a green industrial revolution. 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.

The UK’s gas network companies have today (21 January) outlined a routemap to meeting these aims. 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.

The ENA’s Gas Goes Green champion Chris Train said: “Building the UK’s first hydrogen town is not just about replacing the natural gas that most of our homes rely upon today; it’s about reducing our carbon emissions in a safe and secure way. It’s about delivering meaningful choice for households, businesses and communities. And it’s about ensuring that the economic benefits of hydrogen are spread around the country, to take advantage of the breadth and scale of that transformation.

“Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan sets out how our gas network companies will do all of that in the years ahead.”

The companies will explore how they will deliver a network of refuelling facilities for zero-carbon heavy good vehicles, and how carbon capture and storage and hydrogen use can help decarbonise industrial clusters. The UK is aiming to deliver the world’s first net-zero emissions industrial zone by 2040, with six locations jostling for the accolade.

By 2032, the companies are planning to have invested £28bn in doing so improving job uptake in the sector to meet the decarbonisation goals. The Plan suggests that the network companies are delivering £1.5bn of funding in industrial decarbonisation projects.

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.

In addition, today also marked the first hydrogen fired as part of a live demonstration trial exploring alternative and low-carbon fuel sources. The first hydrogen was fired for the ‘HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching’ (IFS) programme, which is being led by Progressive Energy and will provide data on how industries can switch to low-carbon hydrogen.

The live demonstration featured a 1MW boiler at Dunphy Combustion’s test centre in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Virtual attendees included staff from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Unilever. Unilever will be running their own hydrogen demonstrations later this year.

It forms part of the HyNet North West hydrogen and carbon capture storage project, that will aim to deliver carbon savings by 2025. By 2030, the project will be capable of removing up to 10 million tonnes of carbon from across North West England and North East Wales each year – the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road annually.

Matt Mace



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