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UK gas grid companies set out plans for building hydrogen economy

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Gas grid companies have launched a major new blueprint for building the UK’s hydrogen economy, including plans to build the UK’s first hydrogen-fuelled town.

Published as part of the Energy Networks Association’s Gas Goes Green programme, Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan sets out the detail of the activity that all five of the UK’s gas network companies (Cadent, National Grid, Northern Gas Networks, SGN, and Wales & West Utilities) will undertake to turn the UK’s hydrogen ambitions into reality.

Between them, the firms are responsible for owning and operating the pipelines and other infrastructure that currently delivers gas to 85% of UK homes.

Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan also sets out the work gas network companies will undertake to meet the UK’s other hydrogen objectives, including being ready to blend up to 20% hydrogen into local gas grids by 2030, and help the UK meet its hydrogen production target of 1 GW by 2025 and 5 GW by 2030.

The blueprint sets out how they will help deliver a network of refuelling facilities for zero-emissions heavy goods vehicles, and connect the renewables production, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen use for industrial SuperPlaces, helping to deliver two clusters by the mid-2020s and two more by 2030.

The ENA’s plan explains that a 100% hydrogen network will need to maintain current levels of gas supply security; be funded in a way that continues to be affordable to customers, minimising fuel poverty and maintaining industrial competitiveness; meet net-zero emissions by transporting low- or zero-carbon hydrogen (or biomethane) and be demonstrably safe.

In an interview with Bioenergy Insight in 2020, Matt Hindle, head of gas at the ENA, said biomethane will play a “hugely important” role in the Gas Goes Green programme, commenting: “The 2050 Pathway, on which Gas Goes Green is based, looks at preparing our gas networks for the replacement of traditional methane natural gas by a mixture of hydrogen and biomethane.”

ENA’s Gas Goes Green champion, Chris Train, said: “Building the UK’s first hydrogen town is not just about replacing the natural gas that most of our homes rely upon today; it’s about reducing our carbon emissions in a safe and secure way. It’s about delivering meaningful choice for households, businesses, and communities. It’s also about ensuring that the economy benefits of hydrogen are spread around the country, to take advantage of the breadth and scale of that transformation.

Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan sets out how our gas network companies will do all of that in the years ahead.”