A trial which saw Winlaton in Gateshead become the first community to receive hydrogen blended with natural gas through the public natural gas network has been declared a success by Northern Gas Networks.
Blending hydrogen is considered a non-disruptive way to kickstart a shift to hydrogen, allowing for a substantial hydrogen supply to be built up, while there is no need for changes to domestic consumers’ appliances or installations. The HyDeploy project is striving to pioneer the safe use of blended hydrogen in gas networks, with the 11-month trial in Winlaton its second phase, following a successful 18-month pilot where 100 homes and 30 commercial buildings on a closed network at Keele University used the hydrogen blend in the first phase.
In Winlaton, 668 homes, a church and a school received up to 20% hydrogen blended with natural gas. Consumers were able to use their gas supply and appliances as normal, with no changes needed to appliances such as boilers, cookers and fires, or pipework, considering current gas appliances are designed to operate with a blend of up to 23% hydrogen already. The findings will be submitted to the government later this year to act as part of the safety evidence base for which the 2023 decision around the wider blending of hydrogen in the UK gas network will be taken.
There remain a number of ongoing projects testing the use of hydrogen for heat, such as Hydrogen Homes at Low Thornley near Gateshead, where 100% hydrogen can be seen in use in a show home boiler, cooker, hob, fire and barbecue, while Ofgem recently shortlisted Redcar and Ellesmere Port as potential Hydrogen Villages, with detailed design studies set to be undertaken ahead of trials commencing in 2025. Northern Gas Networks highlighted how all programmes are showing excellent promise in the delivery of effective climate change solutions and will help to develop opportunities for low carbon hydrogen as a “new home-grown super-fuel”.