National Grid is partnering with Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and Fluxys Belgium to build a first of its kind offline hydrogen test facility in the UK, to understand how hydrogen gas could be used in the future to heat homes and deliver green energy to industry.
The £10 million project will be delivered by DNV GL, with support provided by the HSE Science Division and academic partnerships with Durham University and the University of Edinburgh and involves building a hydrogen test facility at DNV GL’s site at Spadeadam, Cumbria.
The facility will be built from a range of decommissioned assets, to create a representative network which will be used to trial hydrogen and will allow for accurate results to be analysed. Blends of hydrogen up to 100% will then be tested at transmission pressures, to assess how the assets perform.
The plans have been submitted to Ofgem and if funding is awarded, the aim is to start construction in 2021 with testing beginning in 2022.
Currently 85% of homes and 40% of the UK’s power needs are supplied by gas. But as the UK works towards becoming one of the world’s first net zero economies by 2050, the gas sector needs to demonstrate a viable pathway for decarbonisation.
Antony Green, Project Director for Hydrogen at National Grid, says: “If we truly want to reach a net zero decarbonised future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen. Sectors such as heat are difficult to decarbonise, and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means trial projects like this are crucial if we are to deliver low carbon energy, reliably and safely to all consumers.”
NGN, one of the UK’s Gas Distribution Networks, is contributing to the project and owns the H21 distribution rig currently under construction at the Spadeadam site.
A collaboration between all the UK gas and transmission networks, and now in its second phase, the H21 programme is demonstrating how the existing gas distribution network can be repurposed to safely carry 100% hydrogen to heat homes and businesses.
Tim Harwood, H21 Project Director and Head of Programme Management at NGN says: “This project will link with Phase 2 of the H21 NIC, by connecting the National Grid transmission assets to the distribution network being built alongside the ‘HyStreet’ of purpose-built hydrogen research houses.By adding transmission assets, we can then demonstrate a full beach-to-meter scenario, showing how the gas industry can collaborate together in a hydrogen future. “
Thierry Bottequin, Engineering Manager from Fluxys Belgium, says: “This is an important step in investigating the conversion possibilities of our infrastructure for the transmission of hydrogen-natural gas blends and hydrogen. We believe that the multiphase scope of the project perfectly complements our own research to document the reliability, safety and integrity of the existing gas infrastructure when used to transport hydrogen.”
The hydrogen test facility will remain separate from the main National Transmission System, allowing for testing to be undertaken in a controlled environment, with no risk to the safety and reliability of the existing gas transmission network.
For further information, contact Surinder Sian, Senior Corporate Communications Manager, +44 (0)7812 485 153, [email protected]
About National Grid:
National Grid is pivotal to the energy systems in the UK and the north eastern United States. We aim to serve customers well and efficiently, supporting the communities in which we operate and making possible the energy systems of the future.
The decarbonisation of the energy system is one of the biggest challenges facing our world, and National Grid has a critical role to play in the acceleration towards a cleaner future. In November 2019, National Grid announced it plans to reduce its own direct greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
In the UK:
- We own and operate the electricity transmission network in England and Wales, with day-to-day responsibility for balancing supply and demand. We also operate, but do not own, the Scottish networks. Our networks comprise approximately 7,200 kilometres (4,474 miles) of overhead line, 1,500 kilometres (932 miles) of underground cable and 342 substations.
- We own and operate the gas National Transmission System in Great Britain, with day-to-day responsibility for balancing supply and demand. Our network comprises approximately 7,660 kilometres (4,760 miles) of high-pressure pipe and 618 above-ground installations.
- As Great Britain’s System Operator (SO) we make sure gas and electricity is transported safely and efficiently from where it is produced to where it is consumed. From April 2019, Electricity System Operator (ESO) became a new standalone business within National Grid, legally separate from all other parts of the National Grid Group. This provides the right environment to deliver a balanced and impartial ESO that can realise real benefits for consumers as we transition to a more decentralised, decarbonised electricity system.
- Other UK activities mainly relate to businesses operating in competitive markets outside of our core regulated businesses; including interconnectors, gas metering activities and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) importation terminal – all of which are now part of National Grid Ventures. National Grid Property is responsible for the management, clean-up and disposal of surplus sites in the UK. Most of these are former gas works.
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