Northern Gas Networks (NGN), Cadent and National Grid have delivered an update on how plans for their East Coast Hydrogen project are progressing.
On 15 November, webinar attendees heard from Sally Brewis, Head of Regional Development at Cadent, who revealed a feasibility study for the project is nearing conclusion and is set to be launched on 30 November. This will define the strategic business case for East Coast Hydrogen, before the project then enters into a first phase in 2022. This initial phase will involve pre-FEED and FEED study, exploring the detailed design of how to transition networks towards hydrogen, and the development of East Coast Cluster carbon dioxide storage infrastructure, enabling blue hydrogen production in the Humber and Tees regions.
The second phase will involve the build out of new infrastructure and repurposing of existing infrastructure, including the National Grid transmission pipe between the Humber and Teesside, connecting 7GW of hydrogen production.
The network will also expand out into West Yorkshire and East Yorkshire, while local green hydrogen production is expected to be connected to industrial end users in the Nottingham region. In the third phase, there will be further expansion from industrial clusters in Northern urban areas and the Midlands, ahead of connection into further regions and planned hydrogen production areas, such as Bacton and Liverpool.
The webinar then heard from the first of three speakers in Cadent’s Director of Strategy, Angela Needle, who spoke on one of the project’s key pillars – industrial decarbonisation. Offering a broad overview, Needle explained that the UK uses around 900TWh of natural gas – triple the amount of electricity it uses – with there a need to move away from this as soon as possible. In the East Coast region, there are around 7,000 large industrial users, accounting for 50% of industrial natural gas demand, with a transition to hydrogen potentially seeing up to 11.5MtCO2 of annual industrial emissions avoided. The track 1 HyNet and East Coast industrial clusters will allow for earlier hydrogen production and large-scale carbon capture utilisation and storage.
Needle also revealed during the Q and A segment of the webinar that “something new developing in the Bacton area” will be seen over the next few months.
On the second of the project’s three pillars, residential decarbonisation, Senior Strategy Manager at NGN, Mark Danter, outlined how there are 4mn homes in the East Coast area, accounting for 17% of UK domestic gas demand at 50TWh. Overall, 90% of these homes are on natural gas, with the project exploring the potential of looking to switch them to hydrogen. This is something, Danter noted, that is linked to the government’s final policy decision on the use of hydrogen for heating buildings in 2026, as promised in the Heat and Buildings Strategy. This means that while plans are being developed and put in place, the project will not move forwards with any until the government announces its decision.
These plans will be informed by learning gained from project’s such as the hydrogen homes initiative in Low Thornley; the village hydrogen trials planned for 2025; and the fact there is more than one potential option, as outlined in the Energy and Utilities Alliance’s report on residential heating. Danter also touched on analysis done so far that has found these 4mn homes switching to hydrogen would see 9mn tonnes of CO2 saved per year.
Antony Green, Hydrogen Director at National Grid, covered connectivity, the project’s final pillar. Green pointed out the importance of looking at common assets between industrial decarbonisation and residential decarbonisation to ensure no regrets proposals and decisions are being made. Assets will be repurposed where possible, which would amount to around a fifth of the cost of new build, while new infrastructure will be needed to transport large quantities of hydrogen. Overall, around 800km of repurposed and dedicated new-build hydrogen pipelines will be needed. Elsewhere, through the Future Grid project, a test facility will be rebuilt to test hydrogen through assets at full-scale.