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Northern Gas Networks (NGN), on behalf of all the UK gas distributers, has today been awarded £9million from Ofgem to support its pioneering hydrogen project, H21.

The funding arrives from the regulator’s Network Innovation Competition (NIC) pot, and will provide critical evidence to support the viability of converting the UK gas distribution networks to 100% hydrogen. A further £1.3 million will be contributed by the UK GDNs.

The £10.3 million funding will see NGN build upon the work of the 2016 H21 Leeds City Gate project which established hydrogen conversion is technically possible and economically viable.

Such a move would represent the single biggest contribution towards achieving the challenge of the Climate Change Act – an 80% reduction in 1990 carbon levels by the year 2050.

Hydrogen when burned is zero carbon at the point of use, with only two by-products: heat and water, making it the ultimate clean fuel.

Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks commented: “As a gas industry, we are pleased that the UK Government, and now our regulator Ofgem, recognise the benefits that a conversion of the UK gas distribution networks to 100% hydrogen could bring.

“This decision moves us a step closer to supporting the Government in delivering clean growth and affordable energy for the UK, by unlocking the significant environmental and energy customer benefits such a conversion could create.”

When complete, the H21 NIC project will provide essential evidence to partner the Government’s £25 million ‘Downstream of the meter’ hydrogen programme, announced earlier this year, which examines using hydrogen as a potential heat source in the home.

The H21 NIC project is split into two phases, with the £10.3 million financing the Phase One controlled testing. Funding for the Phase Two field trials, valued at around £5 million, was not awarded by the regulator.

NGN’s H21 Programme Director & Head of Hydrogen Technologies Dan Sadler

Dan Sadler, NGN’s H21 Programme Director and Head of Hydrogen Technologies said: “It’s very positive that we can start to gather the essential evidence to unlock the potential for a world first large scale hydrogen economy through conversion of the UK gas distribution network.

“Such a move would be to the tremendous benefit of the entire UK energy system, re-using a national asset in the form of the UK gas network, and maintaining choice for energy customers of the future.

“This would deliver air quality improvements through rapid decarbonisation of transport alongside electric vehicles, support the UK in reaching its decarbonisation targets, create thousands of jobs and facilitate unlimited system coupling between gas and electricity.

“It would also lead the world in large-scale credible decarbonisation strategies that are transferable across the globe.

“Funding for Phase One is a great start and hopefully in the near future, we will secure the outstanding funding for Phase Two, to ensure there are no delays in the provision of holistic evidence which will allow the UK government to make credible, large-scale decarbonisation policies for UK energy.

“This is a huge step forwards on the road to a long-term sustainable and secure global energy system.”

To learn more about NGN’s pioneering work to develop the energy system of the future, including the H21 programme click here

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