The £7-million pilot project designed to inject zero-carbon hydrogen to a live natural gas network in the UK is now underway.
The HyDeploy demonstration project inserts as much as 20% hydrogen into the existing gas supply of Keele University, feeding into 30 faculty buildings and 100 domestic properties. This amount is the current highest in Europe. There is also a similar project in France following its lead.
This blend means consumers need not alter any pipework or gas appliances to help in the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The HyDeploy Project is a unique undertaking that aims to be the launchpad for a hydrogen-blending market in the UK. The 20% blend is said to be equivalent to removing an astounding 2.5 million vehicles from the roads, and saves about six million tonnes in yearly emissions.
Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition backs the project. Cadent leads it through a partnership with Keele University, Northern Gas Networks, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Science Division, Progressive Energy, and ITM Power.
HyDeploy is a six-year program that commenced in 2017, and is expected to be completed by 2023. The project is designed to have three separate trials, involving the blending of 20% (by volume) of hydrogen into the natural gas supply of NGN’s network, Cadent’s system, and the already operational Keele University’s private network.
ITM Power supplies the electrolyser that is used to produce the hydrogen. Renewable energy powers the machine and works by separating water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen.
Keele University was chosen as the first trial location since it owns and operates a private gas supply network, which is easier and safer to isolate from the rest of the UK network.
This project aims to introduce the safe use of hydrogen blending, and spur the launch of the hydrogen-blending market.
Cadent Director of Safety and Network Strategy Simon Fairman cited Hydrogen as a potential response to solving the problem of carbon emissions derived from heating. He said that the project could enable the reduction of carbon emissions by the mid-2020s, without requiring modifications to consumer behaviour or gas appliances.
The decarbonisation of the economy is likely to be fostered by low-carbon electricity and hydrogen. The element can be deployed with low risk and is considered as the cheapest way to achieve the legally-binding carbon emission reduction goals.
The HSE has previously conducted work that revealed modern appliances and networks could adopt a 20 vol% blend of hydrogen without modification. It directs investment to infrastructure that fosters bulk production of hydrogen such as in CCUS and natural gas conditioning.
The 20% blend of hydrogen is shown to give low carbon-emissions heating (of only 29 TWh/year) while being supplied alongside regular domestic gas. In the UK, heating demand accounts for more than half of all carbon emissions. These figures support the notion that hydrogen creates significant carbon savings.
A total of 670 businesses and homes in Winlaton will be the first public UK natural gas network to undergo a HyDeploy demonstration in December 2020. Customers will be receiving 20% zero-carbon hydrogen blended gas, with the trial lasting ten months.
Gateshead Council has expressed support for the HyDeploy project, indicating its commitment to tackling the reduction of CO2 emissions and climate change.
John McElroy, Gateshead Council cabinet member for Environment and Transport, stated that the council is aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Participating in this project ensures Gatehead is contributing positively to the reversal of climate change.
The demonstration set to be conducted in Winlaton is expected to provide factual evidence of how hydrogen can be utilised practically and affordably. Customers will experience hydrogen-powered homes and establishments for the first time.
All consumers joining the Winlaton demonstration have been duly contacted, and gas safety checks are already being undertaken in the buildings and homes located within the pilot area.