Antony Green, Project Director for Hydrogen, National Grid, sets out the top 3 things about how we are ensuring our energy system can run securely on hydrogen.
The way our gas and electricity are delivered to us all – and the question of how reliable that is - is one of those things that we all tend to hear most about if things don’t quite work out as expected; for example, if our lights go out or if our homes go unheated. But the reality is that our system is very secure and reliable.
Here’s three things you need to know from Britain's Hydrogen Network Plan, about how we’ll ensure that continues to be the case when it comes to our hydrogen plans.
1. Our current system is secure, reliable - and hugely capable.
With a gas network that is 99.999% reliable, our homes, businesses and industry are able to access large amounts of energy, when they need it the most, securely and reliably.
In the cold weather like that we experienced at the start of this month, our gas networks are responsible for delivering nearly two-thirds of the total amount of energy we need in our homes, when demand is at its greatest for things like heating and hot water. That’s around six times more energy than electricity can deliver by itself.
2. Hydrogen can allow us to continue that.
This is where hydrogen comes in as a replacement for natural gas. As what the Government labels an ‘energy carrier’, it can deliver large amounts of energy quickly, safely and securely all around the country. But we need to look at what changes we need to make to our existing system, to adapt to the changes in the world around it.
That includes where hydrogen will come from in the future as we start to produce it from different sources, so we can look at how it will be fed into the gas grid. It also includes how and where it will be stored and what that means for moving it around quickly as the weather changes, and how much energy people need as a result. And we need to look at where in the country it will be used in the future, as we all start to use different types of low carbon technologies in our homes, our offices and in our industries.
3. We’re working on two big questions.
Ultimately, it comes down to two big questions “is there enough hydrogen?” and “can we move it around the country, so we can deliver it to the right places at the right time?”. And to do that, we need to be prepared for a whole different range of evolving circumstances. That’s where Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan comes in, helping National Grid work with local gas distribution networks, the wider energy industry and the households and businesses we serve, to answer those questions.
About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).
Energy supplier or network operator? Energy network operators are entirely separate to your energy supplier, which is the company that bills you for using electricity and gas. Energy suppliers and generators are represented by Energy UK.