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Winlaton first to integrate hydrogen into public natural gas network

Hydrogen molecules

Winlaton, a village near Gateshead, has become the first community in the UK to receive hydrogen blended with natural gas via the public natural gas network.

The HyDeploy project saw up to 20% hydrogen blended with natural gas on a public gas network in Winlaton, operated by Northern Gas Networks.

668 houses, a church and a school received the blend for 11 months and residents were able to use their gas supply as unusual with no changes to appliances.

This is because current gas appliances are designed to operate with a blend of up to 23% hydrogen.

Unlike natural gas, hydrogen does not produce carbon monoxide when burned, cutting carbon emissions and helping tackle climate change.

However, large-scale hydrogen production will also have to be decarbonised to make the switch worthwhile – whether that’s using renewable electricity or gas production linked with carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Heating in the UK is currently responsible for around a quarter of carbon emissions, hydrogen is a viable solution to cut emissions and help reach the government’s 2030 net zero targets.

Hydrogen blending can play a role in decarbonising heat

The report of findings from the Winlaton project will be submitted to the government later this year, ahead of a decision around the wider blending of hydrogen in the UK gas network, which is due to be taken in 2023.

Earlier this year Ofgem shortlisted two UK locations for a Hydrogen Village demonstration, which will see natural gas swapped to hydrogen in around 2,000 properties.

The Hydrogen Village programme will start in 2025 and is expected to last around two years.

The shortlisted locations are an area of Redcar in the North East and Whitby, Ellesmere Port in the North West.

Hydrogen programme manager at Northern Gas Networks Fergal O’Donovan said: “We’re delighted to have successfully completed blending hydrogen into the gas supply at Winlaton.

“The recent unprecedented hot weather has brought the need to tackle climate change to the forefront of people’s mind and this project has demonstrated that hydrogen blending can play a role in decarbonising heat with no disruption.

“We’d like to thank the residents of Winlaton for their participation and support in this vital demonstration.”

Greener gas without having to make any changes to people’s homes

Director of strategy at Cadent Dr Angela Needle added: “We’ve been thrilled to pass the baton from the first ever hydrogen blending trial at Keele University to Northern Gas Networks who have successfully completed blending into the gas network in the village of Winlaton.

“This project is the culmination of a huge amount of work putting consumers at the heart of the energy transition.

“By blending hydrogen into the gas network, the people in Winlaton could start using a greener gas without having to make any changes to their home or the way they use their heating and cooking.

“Forming part of the evidence we are putting to Government to enable their 2023 policy decision on blending hydrogen into the gas networks as a means to support decarbonisation targets.”

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