UK network regulator approves unblended hydrogen transmission trial

Matthew Farmer 30 November 2020 (Last Updated November 30th, 2020 17:53)

UK energy networks regulator Ofgem has given clearance to Scottish gas network SGN to launch a trial of its hydrogen gas network.

UK network regulator approves unblended hydrogen transmission trial
The UK has backed hydrogen production from renewable-generated energy to decarbonise its domestic gas network. Credit: Air Products.

UK energy networks regulator Ofgem has given clearance to Scottish gas network SGN to launch a trial of its hydrogen gas network.

From the end of 2022, 300 homes will connect to the H100 Fife network, separate from the main gas network. This will use unblended green hydrogen, produced by electrolysis at an offshore wind turbine.

Customers will be given the option to opt into the trial. As part of this, they will receive free connection to the hydrogen grid, replacement appliances that run on hydrogen, and free maintenance during the trial.

Construction will begin in 2021. the hydrogen demonstration facility will start operations from 2022, running until the trial’s end in March 2027.

The regulator has awarded $24m (£18m) to support the development of the network in the Levenmouth are of the eastern Scottish county of Fife. The Scottish Government provided a further $9.2m (£6.9m) to support the project.

SGN director of energy futures Angus McIntosh said: “We’re delighted that stakeholders have recognised the critical importance of H100 Fife. The project is the UK’s priority project in this area and is designed to demonstrate hydrogen distribution and in-home performance in a real-world setting.

“The hydrogen appliances will connect to the existing pipes in the home for zero-carbon heating and cooking with minimal disruption and with no need to replace existing radiators or plumbing.”

A spokesperson for the gas network operator said the project would fit with the UK’s recently announced aim to scale up hydrogen use and build a model hydrogen-heated town by 2030.

UK gas distributors continue hydrogen safety tests and blended gas trials

Ofgem awarded the funds as part of its Gas Network Innovation Competition. This competition also awarded funds to a National Grid Gas project testing the effects of different hydrogen blends on its gas transmission network. The project will test different concentrations of hydrogen, between 20% and 100%, at differing pressures.

Northern Gas Networks has a similar ongoing trial, launched in 2018. After initial background leakage tests, the H21 Project has started risk and repair testing at a DNV-GL facility in Cumbria. The National Grid Gas project plans to work with the H21 Project.

The second phase of H21 will involve testing operational procedures. After this, the network operator aims for a live trial in 2021 or 2022.

Northern Gas Networks has also pushed forward with trials of hydrogen-blended natural gas. Initial tests continue on a closed network at Keele University campus, after a suspension during the UK’s first Covid-19 lockdown.

A 20% hydrogen blend trial will roll out to 670 homes from early 2021, running for 10 months. Eventually, the HyDeploy2 Project aims to roll out a blended gas across north-east England.