With the 22nd December deadline for responses to the Gas Network Innovation Strategy fast approaching, Mark Wheeldon, Innovation Project Manager at SGN, gives an overview of the innovative H100 project that aims to build a hydrogen demonstration network.
At present, natural gas is the principle fossil fuel used for domestic heating in the UK. The UK government has given a commitment to reduce carbon output and progress towards the 2050 UK Government carbon target by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.
To meet this very challenging target, all methods of decarbonisation will need to be explored.
The UK has an advanced and efficient gas network that currently supplies the energy to heat 82% of the UK’s buildings and supplies the vast majority of the UK’s industrial heat. The demand for heat is highly variable with both seasonal and diurnal swings. The gas network delivers six-seven times more of the UK’s peak energy than the electricity network. The gas network therefore has a major role to play in the journey to decarbonization.
Reducing and eliminating carbon can be done in a number of ways in the short, medium and long term. In the short term, it’s a case of substituting bio fuels such as bio-methane for natural gas and by widening the range of gases that the networks’ can accommodate without processing. In the medium term, it can be done by blending zero carbon gas such as hydrogen or in the long term by removing carbon completely and using hydrogen as the vector.
The introduction of hydrogen into the energy mix is a potential solution and could form an important part of the UK’s low carbon future. Our H100 project will look to build on prior work and develop site specific evidence to support the construction of a physical 100% hydrogen demonstration. The intended demonstration will be small scale, but sufficiently representative to draw conclusions from the evidence it provides.
The new hydrogen demonstration network will also need to be commercially viable, and UK scalable with one of the field trial criteria being the collation of ongoing running costs such as maintenance, training of operatives and managers, compliance, and the continued supply of renewable hydrogen. This information will form the basis of the cost benefit analysis at the end of the field trial.
The H100 is a five-phase project which will seek to do all of the above, with the fifth phase being a city gate conversion. The project is currently at phase one, which is the feasibility and FEED for the construction of a new small hydrogen demonstration network. In short, phase one will aim to research and evaluate the feasibility of the construction and operation of the first 100% hydrogen gas distribution network.