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Green energy trial injects hydrogen into UK gas grid

By Charlotte Ricca

If rolled out, pilot could save 6m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year

A UK project to inject zero-carbon hydrogen into a UK gas network has begun.

The green energy trial at Keele University in Staffordshire is pumping up to 20 per cent (by volume) of hydrogen into the university’s existing natural gas network. This feeds 100 homes and 30 faculty buildings.

The hydrogen/natural gas blend is the joint-highest in Europe, alongside a similar project run by Engie in Northern France.

The £7m ($9.2m, €8.2m) project, called HyDeploy, is backed by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition. It is led by Cadent, which operates and maintains the largest gas distribution network in the UK.

In addition to Keele University, it has been working with Northern Gas Networks, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Science Division, integrated hydrogen energy systems manufacturer ITM Power and independent clean energy company Progressive Energy.

Heating homes and businesses accounts for half of the UK’s energy consumption and one third of its carbon emissions. Eighty three per cent of British households use gas to keep warm.

The 20 per cent volume blend requires no changes to gas appliances or pipework, but still cuts emissions. Hydrogen generates heat without carbon dioxide.

If this pilot was rolled out across the UK it could save around 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, ITM Power says. This would be the equivalent of taking 2.5 million cars off the road.

"It is impossible to overstate the importance of this trial to the UK," said Ed Syson, chief safety and strategy officer for Cadent. "It could pave the way for a wider rollout of hydrogen blending, enabling consumers to cut carbon emissions without changing anything that they do.

"HyDeploy could also prove to be the launchpad for a wider hydrogen economy, fuelling industry and transport, bringing new jobs and making Britain a world-leader in this technology. Urgent action is needed on carbon emissions and HyDeploy is an important staging post on that journey in the UK."

FURTHER READING: Bitcoin’s carbon footprint three times smaller than predicted

FURTHER READING: UK fossil fuel use hits record low

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