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Hydrogen could replace 20% of natural gas in the grid from next year

Professional Engineering

Hydrogen could be introduced without changes to cookers or boilers, the Energy Networks Association said (Credit: Shutterstock)
Hydrogen could be introduced without changes to cookers or boilers, the Energy Networks Association said (Credit: Shutterstock)

Hydrogen could heat homes around the country from next year, with all five of Britain’s gas grid companies preparing capability to provide the gas.

Up to a fifth of the natural gas currently used could be replaced by hydrogen, according to the Energy Networks Association (ENA), the industry body representing energy network operators in the UK.

Adding hydrogen to the gas mix would also mean that the country’s gas-fired power plants could use it to generate cleaner electricity.

The move would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 2.5m cars a year, the ENA said, all without any changes to people’s cookers, boilers or heating systems.

The five gas grid companies also called on the government to double its domestic hydrogen production target from 5GW to 10GW in 2030, to better protect homes and businesses from international gas market changes.

ENA chief executive David Smith said: “Whether it be heating our homes, powering our businesses or generating cleaner electricity, hydrogen will help drive up our energy security, while driving down our carbon emissions – and Britain’s gas grid companies are ready to get on with the job of delivering that.

“This plan sets out the changes needed to deliver cleaner, more secure energy supplies for all. What’s key is that the government does its bit too by lifting its target for homegrown hydrogen production this decade. Doing that today will help gas grid companies deliver for tomorrow.”

The ENA’s report, Britain’s Hydrogen Blending Delivery Plan, sets out:

  • A new ‘Target 2023’ timeline that all five of Britain’s gas network companies will follow, to ensure homes are able to benefit from hydrogen as a replacement for up to a fifth of the natural gas currently used, from the winter of 2023/4 onwards
  • Two options that the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy should choose from for the energy infrastructure changes that need to be made to allow hydrogen blending to happen from 2023 – a ‘strategic approach’ and a ‘free market approach’
  • The legal changes that must be made by government and regulatory bodies across five ‘market pillars’ to ensure gas network companies can start blending hydrogen into the gas grid from 2023.

The plan builds on the progress made by gas network companies through the HyDeploy project, which demonstrated that blending hydrogen with natural gas is feasible and safe. The project began blending hydrogen into the public gas network in Winlaton, Gateshead, in summer 2021.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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