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Gateshead to see public trial of hydrogen network in December following successful launch at Keele

HyDeploy project launches first trial of 20 per cent hydrogen blend at Keele University gas network

The partners behind the HyDeploy hydrogen network development project are preparing for their first public trial of a grid-injected hydrogen blend, following the successful launch of a pilot at Keele University in Staffordshire.

HyDeploy said the pilot, being undertaken at Keele’s private gas network, is injecting up to 20 per cent hydrogen by volume into Keele’s natural gas grid, from where it is heating 100 homes and 30 faculty buildings. This volume of hydrogen represents the highest proportion used in Europe, the group added, matching a similar trial in France. Currently the highest hydrogen blend in full operational use in Europe is 12 per cent in the Netherlands.

Preparations for a public trial in Gateshead are now accelerating, building up to an expected launch in December 2020.This will see around 670 homes and businesses in the Winlaton area heated by the hydrogen blend, distributed via the public gas network.

The trial is expected to last ten months. All buildings will be surveyed to determine the appliance types, then checked for Gas Safe compliance. Onsite equipment will be developed from January to September, the group said. HyDeploy noted that all boilers have been required to be tested on a 23 per cent hydrogen blend since 1996 under the Gas Appliance Directive. 

Keele project

The £7 million Keele project is being led by gas distributor Cadent, in partnership with Northern Gas Networks; Keele University; the HSE’s science division; energy systems manufacturer ITM Power and energy company Clean Energy.

The move is seen as a key step in proving the viability of a national hydrogen network. It comes in parallel to boiler manufacturers such as Baxi and Worcester Bosch running prototype boilers successfully on 100 per cent hydrogen - seen as the ultimate goal, providing zero carbon heating (See January H&V News below).

Cadent chief strategy and safety officer Ed Syson said: “It is impossible to overstate the importance of the trial to the UK - this is the first-ever practical demonstration of hydrogen in a modern gas network in this country. Hydrogen can help us tackle one of the most difficult sources of carbon emissions - heat. This trial could pave the way for a wider rollout of hydrogen blending, enabling consumers to cut carbon emissions without changing anything they do.”

Prof Mark Ormerod, vice chancellor of Keele University, said: “HyDeploy is a pioneering landmark national demonstration project, using our campus as a genuine living laboratory for low-carbon and energy efficient technologies.”

The hydrogen is produced by an electrolyser manufacturered by ITM - using an electrical current to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen.

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