A new project exploring how hydrogen gas could be used to heat homes and deliver green energy will start performing tests from 2022, National Grid announced today.
The firm will partner with Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and Fluxys Belgium to build an offline hydrogen test facility in the UK, with construction set to begin in 2021, the firms said.
Costing £10m, the testing project will be delivered by DNV GL in partnership with Durham University and the University of Edinburgh. The testing facility will be built at DNV GL's site at Spadeadam from a range of decommissioned assets to create a representative network, with blends of hydrogen up to 100 per cent being trialled at different transmission pressures.
"If we truly want to reach a net zero decarbonised future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen," said Antony Green, project director for Hydrogen at National Grid.
"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."
Currently 85 per cent of homes are connected to the gas network. But as the UK works towards becoming a net zero economy by 2050, the gas sector is having to search out a viable pathway to decarbonisation.
A project to replace the UK's old iron gas network with hydrogen- and biomethane-ready piping made from plastic is already underway, with the Energy Networks Association yesterday publishing figures showing how the investment could cut emissions equivalent to taking more than 500,000 cars off the road.
Meanwhile, plans are also underway to switch more homes to green heat technologies such as heat pumps, with the government yesterday confirming that new grants will be available for green heat systems under its soon to be launched Green Home Grants scheme.
The new hydrogen test facility will remain separate from the main National Transmission System, allowing for testing to be undertaken in a controlled environment, the National Grid said.
"This is an important step in investigating the conversion possibilities of our infrastructure for the transmission of hydrogen-natural gas blends and hydrogen," said Thierry Bottequin, engineering manager at Fluxys Belgium.
"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."
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