Net Zero trial as national Gas pipeline switches to hydrogen.


The £12m FutureGrid project is looking at how low-carbon fuel can be safely integrated into the network.

The owner and operator of Britain’s gas transmission network has tested running pure hydrogen through its pipelines in a world first as it attempts to make the case for the lower-carbon fuel as an alternative to natural gas.

The £12 million FutureGrid project is being run by National Gas with funding from Ofgem, the energy regulator, and companies including Northern Gas Networks, which distributes gas across Yorkshire and the northeast, to look at how hydrogen can be safely integrated into the network.

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The government has said it wants to reduce the UK’s reliance on natural gas in line with a target to reach net-zero goals. However, pipeline owners hope hydrogen production will be encouraged instead, as a replacement in fuelling heavy industry and eventually home heating, helping to secure the future of their networks.

FutureGrid is being run at a test facility at RAF Spadeadam, an air force base in Cumbria, where a small section of the 7,500-kilometre pipeline system has been recreated to test increasingly concentrated hydrogen blends. The project started with blends of up to 2 per cent, before reaching 100 per cent last month, in preparation for any potential conversion of a larger proportion of the network to hydrogen in the medium term.

Without permission to accept more hydrogen through Britain’s transmission network, National Gas said it would need to build a deblending facility at its import terminal in Bacton, Norfolk, which it said could cost up to £600 million a year to operate.

At the end of last year, the government said it saw “potential strategic and economic value” in supporting the blending of up to 20 per cent hydrogen by volume into the local gas distribution networks.