Gas distribution company Northern Gas Networks has published the findings of its H21 project which suggest a conversion of the existing gas grid to carry 100% hydrogen is feasible and desirable.
The Leeds City Gate report shows that a conversion of Leeds’ gas grid would be technically feasible, cost effective and could make a significant contribution to meeting the UK’s decarbonisation targets. NGN says that the benefits of conversion could be extended UK-wide.
According to the report, 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions arise from domestic heating and cooking, the vast majority of which are fuelled from the gas grid. By converting the gas grid to carry 100% hydrogen UK-wide, NGN says heat emissions would be reduced by at least 73% and that additional carbon savings would be realised in transport and localised energy generation too.
NGN says that converting the gas grid to carry hydrogen would cause minimal disruption to consumers – by installing isolation valves in the conversion area, the transition could be achieved with minor impact on supply.
The implications of conversion for the gas grid itself are very minor according to NGN head of energy futures Dan Sadler. Some reinforcement work would be required, he told Network, but this would not exceed the usual investment made by gas distributors in reinforcement annually.
Sadler added that “the biggest challenge is not a technical one, it is putting a UK hydrogen conversion and carbon capture policy in place to drive the market and provide the appliance manufacturing industry with confidence to produce hydrogen compatible appliances.”
NGN’s proposal for conversion of the gas grid is based on a study conducted in partnership with Leeds City Council. It includes use of Steam Methane Reformers coupled with 90% carbon capture and storage as well as the use of local salt caverns for interday and interseasonal storage
NGN proposes that a conversion of the gas grid in Leeds should begin in 2026-29 following completion of iron gas mains replacement in the region.
Leeds City Council is enthusiastic about the prospect. Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, said: “Transforming Leeds into a hydrogen city would be a bold step. It could play a crucial role in how we heat and power our homes in the future alongside other sustainable energy sources.
“The project has massive potential to make a significant dent in the city’s environmental performance, as well as opening up a wealth of opportunities for innovation, manufacturing and low carbon transport. Working closely with Northern Gas Networks and our partners, we’re keen to develop this exciting concept further”.