More trials follow success of first UK hydrogen blend project

HyDeploy, the first project in the UK to blend hydrogen into a natural gas network, was hailed a success after customers used hydrogen blended gas safely in their homes for heat and energy without the need to make any changes to their existing appliances.

Keele University was viewed as the perfect location, owning and operating its own private gas network, which could be safely isolated from the wider UK gas network with the successful trial paving the way for larger demonstrations on a public gas network. 100 homes and 30 university buildings received the blended gas for a period of 18 months which ended in spring 2021.

Steve Fraser, chief executive of Cadent said: “I would like to thank the customers at Keele University for their willingness to take part in this trial. HyDeploy is a ground-breaking collaboration and has demonstrated very clearly that consumers can safely receive up to 20% hydrogen blended with natural gas, without the need to make any changes to their existing appliances. 

“With 8 in 10 of our homes in the UK heated by natural gas it is an energy we are familiar with. Adopting hydrogen blending across the gas networks would save carbon emissions equivalent to removing 2.5m cars from our roads – a huge step towards net zero.

“Importantly customers experienced no disruption and felt positively towards using hydrogen blends and the trial.  Blending hydrogen into the natural gas network is a critical stepping-stone in helping the UK reach net zero by 2050.”

No impact on gas appliances

Gas safety checks were carried out in the homes and buildings in the trial area. Laboratory tests were carried out on a range of gas appliances, as well as extensive research on the effect of hydrogen on the different materials found in the gas network and the appliances.

Keele resident Rob Meredith said: “I was excited to be a part of this trial. I found that using hydrogen blended had no impact on any of my gas appliances, and I carried on cooking and using my heating like normal.”

Professor Trevor McMillan, vice chancellor of Keele University said: “We’re delighted that Keele University has been able to play a crucial role in blending hydrogen into the natural gas network. HyDeploy has been a perfect fit for Keele University’s sustainability ambitions as an institution and we are proud to have been able to use our campus and involve our staff and residents in this landmark project.”

The success of the trial at Keele University has paved the way for a larger pilot project at Winlaton, near Gateshead where 668 houses, a school and some small businesses have been receiving hydrogen blended gas on a network operated by Northern Gas Networks (NGN) since early August 2021.

Mark Horsley, CEO at NGN said: “The results delivered by the Keele project gave the Health and Safety Executive the confidence to approve the first blending of hydrogen with natural gas on the public gas network. We’re delighted that our customers in Winlaton are now using their gas as normal whilst playing a vital role in the decarbonisation of the gas network.  

“This next phase of HyDeploy will provide more vital evidence about the possibilities of blending hydrogen into the gas network across the UK, as an important stepping-stone to decarbonising heat.”