Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition has approved a first of its kind offline hydrogen research facility at Spadeadam to understand how transmission assets could be used to transport hydrogen in the future to heat homes and deliver green energy to industry.
The facility will be built from a range of decommissioned assets, to create a representative transmission network. Blends of hydrogen up to 100% will then be tested at transmission pressures, to assess how the assets perform.
The hydrogen research facility will remain separate from the main National Transmission System, allowing for testing to be undertaken in a controlled environment, with no risk to the safety and reliability of the existing gas transmission network.
Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition will provide £9.07m of funding with the remaining amount coming from the project partners.
The aim is to start construction in 2021 with testing beginning in 2022.
Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, says: “The high level of ambition shown by bidders in this year’s Network Innovation Competition is hugely encouraging and shows the energy industry getting behind the challenge of net zero.
“The winning projects were those which showed the most potential to make the game-changing leaps in technology we need to build a greener, fairer energy system at the lowest cost to consumers.”
Antony Green, Project Director for Hydrogen at National Grid says: “Today’s announcement is a major step forward and shows Ofgem’s commitment to net zero investment. If we truly want to reach a net zero decarbonised future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen. Sectors such as heat are difficult to decarbonise, and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means projects like this are crucial if we are to deliver low carbon energy, reliably and safely to all consumers.”
DNV GL is the lead delivery partner designing, constructing, and operating the high-pressure hydrogen research facility at their site in Spadeadam. The HSE Science Division will support on the project, alongside academic partners Durham University and the University of Edinburgh.
Hari Vamadevan, Senior Vice President, UK and West Africa, DNV GL - Oil & Gas, says: “We are delighted that National Grid selected DNV GL as their partner, and now OFGEM has approved the HyNTS FutureGrid Programme to study hydrogen in a high pressure pipeline system. We will re-use existing assets from the gas transmission system, coupled with bespoke facilities for the generation of gas flows. We will augment this with extensive safety testing and consultancy. DNV GL, through this ground-breaking FutureGrid project, are looking forward to delivering a step change in knowledge and confidence in the transmission of pure and blended hydrogen both in new and existing pipeline systems.”
Northern Gas Networks (NGN), one of the UK’s Gas Distribution Networks, is contributing to the FutureGrid project. The H21 Phase 2 NIC project, led by NGN, is currently utilising the DNV GL Spadeadam research facility to build a microgrid distribution network alongside a terrace of three houses and phase 1 research facility. The FutureGrid transmission facility will be connected to these projects to represent a complete hydrogen gas infrastructure for the future.
Mark Horsley, CEO of NGN says: "We’re delighted to be working with National Grid on this project. Gas networks play an essential role in delivering a reliable, resilient supply of energy to UK customers. By building up the evidence base for hydrogen, we’re demonstrating that these networks are key not only to the delivery of Net Zero, but also to ensuring customers continue to receive a secure supply of low carbon energy for years to come."
Thierry Bottequin, Engineering Manager from Fluxys Belgium, says: “As Belgium's motto rightly says "unity is strength", I am convinced that it is by bringing together our mutual expertise that we will accelerate the achievement of our ambitious decarbonization objective. We believe at Fluxys that the scope of HyNTS Future Grid perfectly complements our own research efforts to document the reliability, safety and integrity of the existing natural gas infrastructure for the transmission of hydrogen.”