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GAS customers in Winlaton, Gateshead, will become the first on a public UK gas network to use blended hydrogen for heating and cooking, as the country’s gas distributors demonstrate ways to cut climate-changing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Winlaton will be the location for the next stage of HyDeploy, a pioneering energy pilot exploring how by adding 20% zero-carbon hydrogen into the natural gas network, the UK can reduce CO2 emissions caused by heating homes without needing to change customers’ appliances or behaviour.

The first phase of the HyDeploy project is about to get under way at Keele University in Staffordshire, where customers on a private gas network will be using blended hydrogen for everyday heating and cooking.  The technology used in both phases is identical.

When burnt, hydrogen only produces heat and water, making it a realistic solution for tackling decarbonisation as the UK looks towards its Net Zero emissions target of 2050.

From December 2020, 670 homes and businesses in Winlaton will receive gas blended with 20% hydrogen, in a demonstration lasting 10 months.

A major benefit is that the pilot will require no disruption for customers in terms of their gas appliances or the way they use gas at home.

Backed by £22.5 million of OFGEM innovation funding, HyDeploy is a collaborative gas industry project led by gas distributors Northern Gas Networks and Cadent, in partnership with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE),  clean energy project management specialists Progressive Energy, and a consortium of industry experts, who jointly, will lead the safe management of the pilot over the next two years.

HyDeploy is also being supported by Gateshead Council, as part of their commitment to tackling climate change and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the region.

Councillor John McElroy, Gateshead Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport said: “We all have a duty to act to help prevent further climate breakdown which is already causing serious damage around the world.

“Gateshead Council has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 and by taking part in innovative pilots such as these we can further help ensure Gateshead is making a positive contribution to reversing the effects of climate change.”

The Winlaton demonstration will provide important evidence to inform how hydrogen could be used more widely in a practical, affordable way, and will be the first time most customers will have experienced using it for energy in their homes.

The hydrogen for the pilot will be produced by an ITM Power electrolyser, powered by renewable sources. This technology uses an electrical current to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

By bringing HyDeploy to Winlaton, it’s another landmark achievement in the engineering heritage of the North East.

Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks said:

“The North East has been a hotbed of innovation and engineering achievements since the 1800s, and we’re very proud to join this roster by bringing HyDeploy to Winlaton.

“As the UK looks towards a low carbon energy future and ways to cut emissions, we know customers are ready to embrace cleaner energy solutions.

“Using hydrogen in the existing gas network through projects like HyDeploy means we’re ensuring communities like Winlaton stay warm in their homes, while making a positive difference to climate change today.”

Ed Syson, Chief Safety & Strategy Officer, Cadent said: “We know that the gas networks have a role to play in the UK’s future energy needs, alongside wind and solar.  We believe that using the existing network to deliver greener gas, is the most cost-effective way of heating our homes in the net zero future.”

The Health & Safety Executive is overseeing all safety aspects of HyDeploy, providing expert, impartial advice to the project.

As part of this phase, gas safety checks are being carried out in homes and buildings inside the pilot area.

Laboratory tests have also been carried out on a range of common household gas appliances as well as extensive research on the effects of hydrogen on the gas network.

Fast facts

  • Heating homes and industry accounts for nearly half of all energy use in the UK and one third of the country’s carbon emissions. More than 80 per cent of homes in the UK are heated by gas.
  • If hydrogen were blended with natural gas across the UK at a similar level to HyDeploy, it could save around six million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the equivalent of taking 2.5 million cars off the road.
  • Since the mid 1990s, the UK Gas Appliance Directive requires all appliances to operate on a 23% hydrogen blend before they can be approved for market.
  • Hydrogen was a major component in ‘town gas’, gas created from coal and used widely throughout Britain before the discovery of North Sea gas in the 1960s. Up to 60% of the gas (by volume) being used by consumers during this time was hydrogen.
  • Building on the HyDeploy principles towards wider deployment of hydrogen, Northern Gas Networks is delivering a suite of hydrogen projects called H21, focused on converting the gas network to 100% hydrogen.
  • Cadent is involved in a wider portfolio of projects such as HyNet, which is focused on using hydrogen to power industry and blended hydrogen to heat 2 million homes in North West England – which first depend on the success of the HyDeploy demonstrations, in proving the concept.

More information about HyDeploy is at www.hydeploy.co.uk