Through a range of innovation projects, Britain's gas networks are using their world-leading expertise to ensure they can deliver hydrogen to Britain’s homes safely & securely. Here's how....
In the last twelve years, Britain's five gas network companies have invested £265m in over 500 different energy innovation projects across the country.
And as we look towards a hydrogen-fuelled future to reduce our carbon emissions, those projects are now working on the engineering challenges and opportunities that come with that, so our homes and businesses can continue to receive the energy they need safely and securely.
These projects range from testing blending up to 20% of hydrogen into the existing gas grid to how we will transport 100% renewable hydrogen from offshore wind turbines all the way to people’s living rooms.
A safety-first approach
Working with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), engineering consultancies and appliance manufacturers, projects are using different pieces of both existing and new gas network infrastructure to test the use of hydrogen. They do this first in a controlled off-grid environment before moving on to limited trials in a public setting.
Projects like H21 and HyDeploy have already shown that using our gas networks to deliver hydrogen is fundamentally safe, for households to use for their heating, hot water and cooking. From next year, the exciting new H100 project will use renewable hydrogen, produced from a nearby offshore wind turbine, to undertake further work in this area.
Hydrogen will also eliminate the risk of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning that comes from burning the carbon-based natural gas that 85% of Britain's homes use today, which can come from gas boilers, cookers and heaters that have been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained.
Ensuring secure energy supplies
Britain's gas grid has a reliability rate of 99.9% and is responsible for delivering a lot of energy to the country's homes and businesses, often at the time when they need it the most. For example in February's Storm Darcy, gas network companies delivered a big 33% increase in energy supplies, as people fired up their home heating to deal with the cold temperatures. That's why as we transition away from natural gas to delivering a mixture of hydrogen and biomethane instead, it's vital that we maintain the ability of our gas grid to do that.
As part of that and working with other gas networks, the HSE and Durham and Edinburgh Universities, National Grid's FutureGrid project is using real-life infrastructure to build a model that represents all the different parts of Britain’s gas grid, to test the gas network from the point that hydrogen is first introduced all the way through to the point that it is used in a home.
And Britain's Hydrogen Network Plan sets out how gas network companies are mapping all the changes that need to be made do our gas transmission network, which is responsible for moving large amounts of gas around the country at high pressure.
Secure energy supplies are also the lifeblood of our economy, and that's why gas networks have come together with a range of other partners through the HyNet project to demonstrate how hydrogen in ‘industrial clusters’ can be used to reduce carbon emissions from Britain’s heavy industry, using carbon capture, storage and utilization technology.
Our 'Tomorrow's Heat, Today's Opportunity' digital hub sets out more information on all of this work alongside the key facts and stats you need to know about replacing natural gas with a mixture of hydrogen and biomethane.
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).