Gas hob

The gas industry may have taken a huge step in its mission to become more sustainable, as a recent pilot scheme in which hydrogen gas was blended with natural gas on a public network for the first time was completed successfully. 

The groundbreaking project could pave the way for the UK to drastically cut its carbon emissions, and move a step closer to the government’s target of becoming net zero by 2050. 

The first-of-its-kind HyDeploy project which was deployed in Winlaton, Gateshead, ran for 11 months and saw the hydrogen-natural gas blend supply a primary school, church and 668 homes.

Throughout the project, customers in the area continued to use their gas supply and appliances as normal, without making any kind of adjustments. Most modern gas appliances are built to operate with a blend of up to 23% hydrogen, and results from the project will be submitted to the government later this year ahead of plans for a wider hydrogen blend rollout in 2023. 

Speaking about the project, one Winlaton resident said: “There was no difference to using our gas when it contained hydrogen. I am the sheltered scheme officer for some housing in the pilot area and everyone here was enthusiastic about doing their bit to reverse the effects of climate change.”

Fergal O’Donovan, NGN’s hydrogen programme manager added: “We’re delighted to have successfully completed blending hydrogen into the gas supply at Winlaton. The unprecedented hot weather brought the need to tackle climate change to the forefront of people’s minds and this project has demonstrated that hydrogen blending can play a role in decarbonising heat with no disruption.”

New standards expected for gas engineers

This encouraging progress will lead to a new set of standards for both existing and new gas engineers. Energy & Utility Skills have teamed up with IGEM to develop these standards, along with new training frameworks for domestic, commercial and industrial hydrogen gas installation, ensuring a busy, promising future for the profession. 

As part of this process, IGEM will also assess ongoing hydrogen research to update the IGEM/H/1 Hydrogen Reference Standard and create two brand new standards that cover both domestic and non-domestic scenarios. Following this, Energy & Utility Skills will finalise the new training framework by September 2023.

What other hydrogen projects are in the pipeline?

Last year, BP confirmed plans for a new large-scale green hydrogen production facility in the North East of England that could deliver 500 Mwe of hydrogen production by 2030.

Cadent, the UK’s largest supplier of natural gas, has also laid out a 10-point hydrogen plan which includes net zero construction sites from 2023, the first scaled hydrogen blending facility from 2025 and the UK’s first 100% hydrogen pipeline by 2027.