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The HyDeploy Project Gets Underway, Injecting Hydrogen into the UK Energy Grid

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 injects as much as 20% 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, with that of 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.

About the innovative project

The HyDeploy Project is a special 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 estimate of 2.5 million vehicles from the roads and saving about 6 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, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Science Division, Progressive Energy, and ITM Power.

HyDeploy is a six-year program that commenced in 2017 and is anticipated to be completed by 2023. The project is designed to have three trials on separate occasions, which involves the blending of 20 vol% of hydrogen into the natural gas supply of NGN’s network, Cadent’s network, and the already operational Keele University’s private network.

ITM Power supplies the electrolyser that is used to produce 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.

Why Hydrogen?

This project aims to introduce a safe case of hydrogen blending and incite the launch of the hydrogen-blending market.

Cadent Director of Safety and Network Strategy Simon Fairman cited Hydrogen as the potential response to solving carbon emissions derived from heating. He said that the project could enable the reduction of carbon emissions by the mid-2020s without needing 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 pathway to legally-binding carbon emission reduction goals.

The HSE has previously conducted work that revealed current 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 a low carbon heating of only 29 TWh/y within the domestic gas demand. In the UK, heating demand accounts for more than half of total carbon emissions. These figures support the notion that hydrogen creates significant carbon savings.

Winlaton to be first public HyDeploy network

A total of 670 businesses and homes in Winlaton will be the first public UK natural gas network to undergo the HyDeploy demonstration from December 2020. Customers will be receiving 20% zero-carbon hydrogen blended gas, with the trial lasting ten months.

Gateshead Council has expressed support to the HyDeploy project, indicating its commitment to tackling CO2 emission reduction and climate change.

John McElroy, Gateshead Council cabinet member for Environment and Transport, stated that the council eyes a carbon-neutral status by 2030. Participating in the said 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 through the customers bound to experience hydrogen-powered homes and establishments for the first time.

All consumers joining the Winlaton demonstration have been duly contacted. Also, gas safety checks in the buildings and homes located within the pilot area are being undertaken already.