The “world’s first” facility to test whether hydrogen could be used to power millions of homes has been launched in the UK.
Located at the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Science and Research Centre in Buxton, Derbyshire, the facility will carry out tests to establish safety evidence proving that a 100% hydrogen gas network is equally as safe as the current natural gas grid.
The results will be critical in determining if it is safe to convert millions of homes across the country from natural gas to hydrogen.
The H21 initiative, led by Northern Gas Networks (NGN in partnership with Cadent, SGN and Wales & West Utilities, HSE Science and Research Centre and DNV-GL, is part of a number of gas industry projects designed to support the conversion of the UK gas networks to carry 100% hydrogen.
According to H21, currently about 30% of UK carbon emissions are from the heating of homes, businesses and industry. The project states that a large-scale conversion of the gas grid from natural gas to hydrogen is vital to meeting the UK Government’s net zero targets.
The Buxton testing facility has been built following the H21 North of England report which sets out detailed plans on how hydrogen could be used to deliver clean energy to nearly four million homes and 40,000 businesses and industries in the North of England by 2034.
Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the influential Committee on Climate Change, recently described finding a low carbon solution to heating the UK’s 23 million homes as “the biggest challenge the UK faces”.
The results of the testing facility will be eagerly assessed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who are due to publish a ‘Low carbon gas’ consultation later this year.
Mark Horsley, Chief Executive of Northern Gas Networks said, “I’m proud that H21 is launching the world’s first 100% hydrogen testing facility.”
“The potential for this low carbon gas to make inroads into decarbonisation is immense and the work we’re doing here is critical in understanding how we can make a zero-carbon, hydrogen-based gas grid a reality.”
“This will not only enable us to meet decarbonisation targets, but it will improve air quality in towns and cities, create thousands of good jobs and place the UK as a global-leader in hydrogen technology.”
“We look forward to sharing our results with the government, the sector and other industries so that we can work collaboratively to achieve a clean, hydrogen economy as soon as possible and deliver on the promise of low carbon energy for our communities.”