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Plans confirmed for Britain’s first hydrogen town

Britain’s gas grid companies have set out plans to deliver the country’s first hydrogen town by 2030 and full transition by 2050.

The location of the hydrogen town has not been selected but its development forms part of the broader plans towards a transition of Britain’s gas networks to the delivery of hydrogen by 2050, as envisaged in Boris Johnson’s November 2020 plan for a ‘green industrial revolution’.

The plans, which have been published by the Energy Networks Association, were developed with DNV GL and are based on the four principles of safety, maintaining security of supply, meeting customer needs and delivering a supply chain.

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A four stage delivery is proposed. Over the next five years up to 2025, preparatory work will be undertaken, including continuing the gas iron mains replacement programme with hydrogen ready piping and trialling 100% hydrogen in homes. By 2023 the aim is to be ready to blend hydrogen into the gas distribution grid up to 20% volume and to commence a ‘neighbourhood trial’ of 100% hydrogen.

From 2025 the trialling will be ramped up to the large village level and then to a large town by 2030. During this period the first hydrogen ready appliances should start to be widely installed and the first hydrogen blends introduced in power generation.

The 2030 hydrogen production target is 5GW, up from 1GW by 2025.

In the 2030s the programmes will scale up, building new hydrogen pipelines between industrial clusters and to connect with storage facilities, connecting hydrogen production to the networks and with the iron mains replacement programme completed, rolling out 100% hydrogen conversion for use in homes, industry and transport.

Hydrogen is expected to become the long term fuel of choice for the heavy transport sector at least. Its use should take off initially for trucks and buses in the next five years and then move into shipping after 2025 with further fast growth occurring after 2030.

The full transition is envisaged during the 2040s, with a national hydrogen network in place, hydrogen production growing rapidly and hydrogen storage at scale.

“Building the UK’s first hydrogen town is not just about replacing the natural gas that most of our homes rely upon today,” says Chris Train, ENA’s Gas Goes Green champion.

“It’s about reducing our carbon emissions in a safe and secure way. It’s about delivering meaningful choice for households, businesses and communities. And it’s about ensuring that the economic benefits of hydrogen are spread around the country.”

Britain’s five gas network companies are Cadent, National Grid, Northern Gas Networks, SGN and Wales & West Utilities. They own and operate the pipelines and other infrastructure that currently deliver gas to 85% of homes nationwide.

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