Nortegas Launches H2sarea, the First Strategic Advanced Research Project for the Safe Injection of Hydrogen Into the Natural Gas Network

By February 24, 2021 5   min read  (946 words)

February 24, 2021 |

fuelcellsworks, Nortegas Launches H2sarea, the First Strategic Advanced Research Project for the Safe Injection of Hydrogen Into the Natural Gas Network
  • Nortegas has launched a strategic and innovative project, aimed at being a benchmark in the energy sector.
  • The H2SAREA project plans to boost the safe injection of hydrogen in the natural gas distribution infrastructures, by means of researching advanced technological solutions.
  • The H2Loop research platform will enable research into the behaviour of materials and components in contact with hydrogen and natural gas-hydrogen mixes.
  • Nortegas is promoting different research and development projects with hydrogen as one of the key drivers in the decarbonisation of the energy sector.

Nortegas, the second natural gas distributor in Spain, has launched the H2SAREA project, where the company seeks to position itself as the driving force in the field of hydrogen distribution. The company is thus continuing to back cutting-edge projects for technological solutions in the hydrogen value chain, by means of researching materials, products and systems compatible with the existing natural gas distribution infrastructure, while complying with the economic efficiency, safety, operational and technical requirements, in order to inject an increasingly larger amount of hydrogen into the distribution network.

H2SAREA is addressing one of the most important energy challenges regarding the efficient use of hydrogen. The injection of this renewable gas into the existing natural gas distribution networks will not only allow infrastructures totalling over 8,000 km in the case of Nortegas to be used, but it will also help to consolidate the role of hydrogen as a lever to decarbonise the economy, for the residential, industrial and mobility markets. It will thus cover the demand of sectors that cannot be electrified given the nature of their activity.

The project consists of researching new technological solutions, equipment and components, which will allow the natural gas networks to be transformed to distribute hydrogen in different blending scenarios: hydrogen injection systems, advanced compression systems, development of specific smart fixers for hydrogen, research into new materials and components suitable to be used in both 100% hydrogen environments and in variable natural-gas-hydrogen mixes, modular hydrogen separation systems, sensors, burners, etc. The aim is to establish and obtain the necessary technological solutions for the possible progressive transformation of the distribution network and uses with incremental hydrogen mixes in the natural gas network, until 100% hydrogen is achieved.

The project, led by Nortegas, is being conducted by a consortium, whose members include leading companies from Basque industry: ABC Compresores, C.A.E., S.L.– FIDEGAS, H2Site, Erreka Fastening Solutions and Orkli. It is also working with two of the main technology centres of the Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network: Tecnalia and Ikerlan; and of the National Hydrogen Centre, a benchmark in this field nationally.

The H2SAREA project will last three years. The initial research and development will be carried out at the Tecnalia and Ikerlan technology centres. This will include the H2Loop research platform, which will allow the new developments to be tested, along with the behaviour of materials and components in contact with hydrogen and natural gas-hydrogen mixes. In a first phase, the analysis of the hydrogen injection will be up to 20% and the percentages will then be gradually increased in a second phase up to 100% hydrogen.

This industrial research project is essential as a prior step to enable the future transformation of the network into a hydrogen economy, in order to have the same levels of safety and full operability as at present. The H2SAREA conclusions will be key when defining the different legislative and regulatory strategies together with institutions, regulators and other companies of the energy sector.

An integrating and strategic project

The H2SAREA project will be a driver of new business and employment opportunities, with great growth potential nationally and internationally. Such projects are helping to drive the creation of more sustainable business networks, with common goals such as generating a positive environmental impact and striving to protect the environment and the decarbonisation of the economy.

The development of an industry around hydrogen will boost employment globally. It is calculated that there will be nearly one million highly qualified workers in this sector by 2020, and, in the Basque Country alone, it is estimated that between 10,000 and 55,000 jobs could be generated by 2050.

This project is part of the Basque Hydrogen Corridor, where Nortegas is working on additional initiatives, all of which are linked to promoting the hydrogen economy and harnessing the current infrastructures.

Strong commitment to hydrogen

In addition to the H2SAREA project, Nortegas has worked on other hydrogen research and development projects in recent years, such as the SINATRAH project, focused on the development and operating of advanced hydrogen distribution systems, along with its efficient use in sustainable industrial applications. That project was conducted in collaboration with Siemens Engines, the Tecnalia Technology Centre and with funding from the Basque Government, through the HAZITEK programme.

Furthermore, in December 2020, Nortegas, along with White Summit Capital, Castleton Commodities International (CCI), SENER and Bizkaia Energía, unveiled the project to implement the first national green hydrogen plant, which will harness the infrastructure of the Amorebieta-Boroa combined cycle power plant in Bizkaia. The development of this green hydrogen plant, with a capacity of 20 MW, aims to generate 1,500 tons of green hydrogen a year from renewable sources.

Nortegas is also working with Duro Felguera and Hunosa on several green hydrogen projects in the Asturian coalfields. The projects will focus on the production, storage, transport, injection into the natural gas network and use of this renewable gas in mobility.

Hydrogen has become a key energy product for the world economy. Both the European Commission and the Government have expressed their commitment to this clean and sustainable energy alternative.



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