Keele University paves the way for landmark national green energy trial
Keele University has paved the way for a national green energy trial that could help Britain dramatically cut its carbon emissions and open the door to a low-carbon hydrogen economy.
Plans to use hydrogen to help heat UK homes – and massively cut the country’s carbon emissions – took a big step forward today with a £14.9 million funding boost. The money will fund two field trials on public gas networks, blending hydrogen with natural gas to heat around 750 homes in each of the year-long trials.
This is following the announcement earlier this month which outlined plans to complete the first UK trial on the closed gas network at Keele University. Following extensive scientific analysis and safety checks, the Health and Safety Executive gave the HyDeploy team permission to blend hydrogen with natural gas at volumes up to 20 per cent.
HyDeploy2 is the natural next step – demonstrating use of blended gas in a controlled and carefully monitored way, at similar hydrogen volume, on the public gas networks.
Industry regulator Ofgem today announced it was approving £14.9 million in funding for HyDeploy2 as part of its Network Innovation Competition (NIC) allocations. By funding level, this is this is the largest gas NIC project ever.
Over the course of the four-year programme, starting in 2019, the team behind ‘HyDeploy2’ will monitor the performance and safety of using hydrogen in this way.
The aim is to build support for a much wider roll-out. If adopted across the UK, using hydrogen like this could save the same amount of carbon as taking 2.5 million cars off the road. A major benefit of this blending approach is that it comes with no disruption to customers – they do not need to change their gas appliances or the pipes to their homes.
Professor Mark Ormerod, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at Keele University, said: “Environmental sustainability is a key overarching institutional priority for Keele University, which is why we’re delighted to be a partner in this vital national project aimed at significantly reducing carbon emissions from heating homes and businesses. HyDeploy2 will extend the current HyDeploy trial at Keele University and will help to tackle one of the world’s major societal challenges. It has the potential to be highly impactful and lead to a very substantial reduction in carbon emissions.”
Backed by the north of England’s two gas distribution networks – Cadent and Northern Gas Networks – there will be one trial in each company’s geographic footprint. This means one in the North West England and one in the North East / Yorkshire. Identifying suitable locations, and consulting customers and authorities in those areas, will be the next steps.
HyDeploy is led by gas distribution network Cadent. Cadent is working in partnership with Northern Gas Networks, clean energy project management specialists Progressive Energy and scientific consultants at the Health and Safety Laboratory, along with other members of the same consortium who are behind the initial UK trial project at Keele.
The hydrogen for these trials will be produced by an ITM Power electrolyser. This technology uses an electrical current to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. When burned at end use, for example in a home central system, this hydrogen will produce only heat and water – in stark contrast to natural gas, which releases carbon into the atmosphere.
“This funding is fantastic news,” said Simon Fairman, Director of Safety and Network Strategy, Cadent. “It means we can press on with a game-changing vision: to prove hydrogen can safely keep us warm, as well as significantly reduce our carbon footprint.
“We know our existing gas networks are in good shape to help the UK meet its climate change targets. Blended hydrogen in this way means customers will use gas tomorrow as they do today, without any disruption or need to change their pipes or appliances.”
Mark Horsley, Chief Executive, Northern Gas Networks, said: “Through the Network Innovation Competition funding mechanism, gas industry projects like HyDeploy2 are unlocking the potential for green energy sources to make a real difference to customers and to the planet, at the lowest possible cost.
“HyDeploy2 represents a huge step forward for wider deployment of hydrogen as a clean energy source, as the UK looks towards achieving its vision of a low carbon energy future.”
- Heating homes and industry accounts for nearly half of all energy use in the UK and one third of the country’s carbon emissions. More than 80 per cent of homes in the UK are heated by gas.
- If hydrogen were blended with natural gas across the UK at a similar level to HyDeploy, it could save around six million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the equivalent of taking 2.5 million cars off the road.
- Hydrogen was a major component in ‘town gas’, gas created from coal and used widely throughout Britain before the discovery of North Sea gas in the 1960s. Up to 60% of the gas (by volume) being used by consumers was hydrogen.
- Cadent is involved in a wider portfolio of projects – such as HyNet, to use hydrogen to power industry and blended hydrogen to heat 2 million homes in North West England – which first depend on the success of the HyDeploy trials, in proving the concept.
- Building on the HyDeploy principles towards wider deployment of hydrogen, Northern Gas Networks is delivering a suite of hydrogen projects called H21, focused on converting the gas network to 100 per cent hydrogen.
More information about HyDeploy is at www.hydeploy.co.uk.