Gas distributors plot hydrogen communities


Cadent and Northern Gas Networks (NGN) are set to progress plans for a UK hydrogen village, after being shortlisted by Ofgem.

On 6 May, Ofgem announced that it will fund two detailed design studies under the RIIO-GD2 Net Zero Pre-Construction and Small Projects (NZASP) re-opener. Having received applications from gas distribution network companies in December 2021 to fund detailed design studies for a Hydrogen Village Trial, it concluded there was value in funding both of Cadent and NGN’s detailed design studies, given they had clear plans and demonstrated a diversity of information that will be captured as they progress.

Cadent is looking to use up to 2,000 properties in Ellesmere Port for the UK’s first hydrogen village. This would see the properties stop using natural gas for heating and cooking, replacing it with hydrogen instead. It has developed the proposal alongside British Gas, with support from Cheshire West and Chester Council.

It would see each property in the area receive free boiler upgrades to new hydrogen-ready ones, while residents would pay the same to use hydrogen as they would natural gas throughout the duration of the two-year programme. Cadent and British Gas have written to all residents whose properties would be supplied with hydrogen, explaining the programme in greater detail. Cadent further revealed that every property in the area will be surveyed, while pledging that residents will be consulted throughout the process.

Northern Gas Networks (NGN), meanwhile, is exploring the potential to bring hydrogen for heating and cooking to some areas of Redcar. It would see 2,000 homes and businesses in parts of Redcar, including the town centre, using hydrogen, with this produced in Teesside and thus ensuring Redcar is self-sufficient, generating its own hydrogen locally from renewable sources.

NGN will now develop its proposal in greater detail and liaise with the local community and stakeholders in the area. This consultation will see everyone in the project area sent information, including a letter and leaflet, outlining more about the project. NGN has set up a dedicated website for customers and will hold customer drop-in sessions at the Civic Centre, ahead of the opening of a shop in the town centre in summer. This will then become its permanent customer base going forwards.

Approval for the projects is set to be given in 2023, with the studies enabling a go/no-go decision, before the projects themselves commence from 2025.