National Grid exploring plans for UK hydrogen “backbone”


National Grid is exploring the development of a UK hydrogen “backbone”, connecting industrial clusters around the country, creating a 2,000km hydrogen network by 2030.

On 18 March, it unveiled Project Union, which would see 25% of the current gas transmission pipelines repurposed and build on the government’s 10-point plan, investing more than £1bn to unlock the potential of hydrogen and support the establishment of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) in four industrial clusters. The project will connect the Grangemouth, Teesside and Humberside clusters and also establish links with the Southampton, North West and South Wales clusters.

In its feasibility phase, the project will identify pipeline routes, assess the readiness of existing gas assets and determine a transition plan for assets in a way that supports the 2050 net zero target. The research will investigate how to convert pipelines in a phase approach by the end of the decade, confirming to the government’s ambition for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen by 2030.

The project will also explore how to connect the backbone to existing interconnectors coming into the Bacton gas terminal in Norfolk, enabling the UK to link with the EU hydrogen backbone also under development, opening the door to future import and export opportunities of hydrogen with European neighbours.

Antony Green, Hydrogen Project Director at National Grid, said: “Hydrogen has a critical role to play as we transition to a cleaner energy future. The potential is exciting and a hydrogen backbone to support the industrial clusters could accelerate the roll-out. But there is a lot of work to find the most economic way to repurpose our assets and how we might develop a phased conversion to develop a hydrogen network for the UK.”