Replacing 20% of the gas in our gas grid with hydrogen will take the equivalent of 2.5m cars off Britain’s roads each year. But what are gas networks doing to turn that into a reality?
As set out in the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for a green recovery, from 2023 Britain’s local gas grid companies are aiming to mix hydrogen into our household gas supplies, to help reduce carbon emissions. This process, known as ‘blending’, is just the start of the journey to replace the carbon-emitting natural gas that 85% of our homes rely upon for heating, hot water and cooking.
The idea is a straightforward one and we have already demonstrated that blending is feasible and safe though successful innovation projects, like HyDeploy. We will aim to replace up to 20% of the carbon emitting natural gas that’s currently in the grid with non-carbon emitting hydrogen instead.
The best thing is, it’s a win-win situation – with this level of hydrogen in the gas grid, households won’t need to change their gas boilers, cookers or heaters or the way they use their energy. In fact, they won’t notice any difference to their gas supply at all.
But they will reduce their carbon emissions. Replacing up to 20% of the natural gas in the gas grid with hydrogen will take the equivalent of 2.5 million cars off Britain’s roads each year.
The most important thing is that we, as the custodians of the country’s gas infrastructure, make that happen in a safe and secure way.
And that’s where Britain’s world-leading engineering expertise comes in.
Through the innovation projects that gas networks are running, we’ve been preparing for hydrogen blending for some time. HyDeploy has been running a live trial at Keele University, with the approval of the Health & Safety Executive. Through this project, up to 20% hydrogen is being blended with natural gas to be used into people’s homes on the Keele University campus via a private gas network. This first phase has proven that theory works safely in practice, with no impact on that way people use their gas boilers or cookers.
In the next phase of testing, which will be launched in Gateshead this year, we will see hydrogen mixed into the public gas grid, using the same technology used in the first phase, with the same rigorous approach to safety and the same Gas Safe checks for customers’ gas appliances. The main difference with this demonstration is that we will be using the hydrogen with a wider variety of customers and appliances that is more representative of the country as a whole.
When it comes to hydrogen, tomorrow’s heat really is today’s opportunity.
Notes to editors
Gas Goes Green #H2Explainers are a series of blogs setting all the key information you need to know about how Britain’s gas networks are working to deliver hydrogen to our homes, as part of our 'Tomorrow's Heat, Today's Opportunity' campaign. Check out the ENA Newsroom to find other articles and updates from both gas and electricity network companies.
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.