LONDON (ICIS)--The British gas industry moved a step closer towards the integration of 100% hydrogen into the network as two key projects passed initial screening by British regulator Ofgem for its Gas Network Innovation Competition (NIC).
The acceptance of these projects represents another indication that hydrogen is likely to be pivotal to decarbonising Britain’s energy systems.
Gas NIC is an annual competition in which gas network companies can compete for up to £20m of funding for the development and demonstration of new technologies.
The two hydrogen projects that passed the initial screening phase were local distribution company SGN’s H100 Fife project, and National Grid Gas Transmission’s (NGGT) HyNTS project. Both are now eligible to bid for funding in the summer.
Although competing for funding, both complement one another towards a zero-carbon future by tackling different means of decarbonising the British gas industry with 100% hydrogen.
The successful integration of 100% hydrogen would mean the complete removal of carbon-emitting natural gas (methane) from the British gas network. In this instance, hydrogen could be used for heating, cooking and for gas-fired power stations - following appropriate adaptation.
SGN’s H100 Fife project has indicated a need for £18m, while the HyNTS project has requested £8.45m.
As well as NIC funding, the H100 Fife project could receive matched funding from the Scottish government of up to £5m and an additional £2m from gas distribution network operators, making up the total £25m project cost.
H100 Fife looks to establish a 100% hydrogen supply into 300 homes situated in Levenmouth in Fife, Scotland as early as 2022, providing key data on the necessary steps needed to integrate hydrogen into British homes.
The initial planning and construction of the project is forecast to run from April 2021 to early 2023, however it could be online prior to then if funding is released ahead of April 2021.
In either instance, the project should be completed and providing data on a 100% hydrogen system ahead of the UK government’s heat policy decision in 2023-24. H100 Fife will run for five years once operational.
The hydrogen will be supplied by an electrolyser powered by Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult’s 7MW offshore wind turbine, producing green hydrogen.
This means the project will bring together renewable, zero-carbon power and the British gas network. And as hydrogen at the point of contact also produces zero carbon emissions, the H100 Fife project can provide a carbon neutral means of heating 300 homes.
This information will be shared with gas distribution network operators, providing vital data for integrating hydrogen into key gas hubs around the country.
Subsequent project phases could move beyond the scope of the funding, pushing to 1,000 homes and eventually a whole-town conversion.
HyNTS aims to demonstrate that the national transmission system (NTS) can be repurposed to carry hydrogen blends of up to 100% within the British gas grid, ensuring safe and feasible transportation of the zero-carbon fuel around the country.
Running from April 2021 to April 2023, the project could fill a number of knowledge gaps around hydrogen integration that cannot be fielded via desktop studies.
In collaboration with DNV GL, NGGT will create an NTS hydrogen test facility at DNV GL’s Spadeadam testing and research site in order to compile data on key safety and operational questions around the integration of hydrogen into the grid.
Provided its success, HyNTS will inform the Department for Business, Innovation and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Hydrogen Programme Delivery Group (HPDG) programme for 2022 and help prove that the entire British gas network can be repurposed and decarbonised from entry point to use.