How will Britain’s Hydrogen Blending Delivery Plan ensure all five of Britain’s gas network companies are ready to start blending up to 20% hydrogen from 2023?
So, what’s the challenge?
Carbon emissions from our household heating need to drop from almost 3 tonnes a year today to just 138kg by 2050 to reach our Net Zero target. By blending up to 20% hydrogen into the gas grid with existing natural gas we can start making some inroads to that target, potentially saving around 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the equivalent of taking 2.5 million cars off the road. At the moment, only 0.1% of the gas in Britain’s network of gas pipelines is allowed to be hydrogen, by law.
The Plan builds on the progress made by gas network companies through the HyDeploy project, which has demonstrated that blending hydrogen with natural gas is feasible and safe. Building on a successful trial at Keele University the project began blending hydrogen into the public gas network in Winlaton, Gateshead, in summer 2021.
Blending hydrogen into the gas grid will also help build the UK’s hydrogen economy by creating a source of demand for hydrogen production. And to help ensure Britain has its own homegrown hydrogen supplies we’ve called on the Government to double its 2030 UK hydrogen production target from 5GW to 10GW, to help shield homes and businesses from changes to international gas markets.
So which homes will start getting hydrogen first?
Merseyside, Teesside and Humberside homes are most likely to benefit from a hydrogen mix first, because these areas have strategically important centres of heavy, energy intensive industries that need to use hydrogen to decarbonise, as an alternative to natural gas.
These areas have been identified by the Government as part of their ‘six industrial clusters’ with HyNet (Merseyside) and East Coast Hydrogen (Teeside & Humberside) being the first to receive support from the Government to decarbonise.
Joined together by National Grid's Project Union, they form the backbone of our plans to build the world's first zero carbon gas grid here in the UK. The idea is that the use of hydrogen will grow outwards from these industrial centres, to include supply to homes and transport in the surrounding areas.
Click on our handy Industrial Clusters Infographic to the right if you want to find out more.
And what does the Plan do and recommend?
There are three main parts to the Plan, which sets out:
- A new ‘Target 2023’ timeline that all five of Britain’s gas network companies will follow to make the changes needed so they are able to start blending hydrogen safely and securely from the winter of 2023/4 onwards.
- Two options that the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, which is responsible for making the final decision on beginning blending next year, should choose from for the energy infrastructure changes that need to be made to allow hydrogen blending to happen from 2023 – a Strategic Approach and a Free Market Approach.
- The legal changes that must be made by Government and regulatory bodies across five key ‘Market Pillars’ to ensure gas network companies can start blending hydrogen into the gas grid from 2023.
The Plan also makes five key recommendations, that:
- The target of blending 20% hydrogen into the gas grid from 2023 is ambitious but achievable. The best route to meeting the target is the one that requires the least amount of change to our gas networks.
- Early clarity from the Government on changes to key pieces of policy and regulation will help ensure that target is met.
- While we've got a timeline to start blending 20% hydrogen into the gas grid from 2023, to deliver that across the country, plans need to be co-ordinated centrally.
- A policy decision on 20% hydrogen blending will be made by Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in 2023. But to meet our target, we need to engage with our industry partners sooner rather than later.
- Quick wins will be key to hitting the target. Updating IT systems and using more data to digitalise operations are two examples of those that gas network companies will need introduce to hit the 2023 20% hydrogen blending target.
How can I find out more?
You can download the Plan by just clicking on the link to the right. Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan, which we published at the start of last year, also sets out the role that blending will play as part of a wider hydrogen transformation of our economy.
Notes to editor
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).