A ground-breaking project to demonstrate the safe use of blended hydrogen in the national gas distribution network is taking place at Keele University.

Combining industrial expertise with Keele University’s unique campus environment, the three-year HyDeploy programme, a collaborative project led by National Grid Gas Distribution Limited and Northern Gas Networks Limited, aims to demonstrate the safe use, environmental and financial benefits of using hydrogen to deliver low carbon heat.

With a third of the UK’s carbon emissions currently attributable to heat, the project, which is the first practical deployment of hydrogen onto a live gas network in the UK in around 50 years, aims to establish how such gases can be used to reduce this carbon intensity whilst bringing financial benefits and minimal disruption to customers.

The outcomes of the project at Keele are planned  to be used to inform a further public trial before a proposed nationwide rollout of hydrogen-blended natural gas across the national gas distribution network, a development that would potentially save consumers £8billion and reduce CO2 emissions by 120million tonnes by 2050.

The HyDeploy Consortium brings together a plethora of professional and industry expertise with academic knowhow. This collaboration is strengthened by the use of the Keele University campus – with a mix of residential, business, industrial and leisure premises across its 600-acres, the site reflects the energy requirements of a small town.

In addition, all electricity, gas and heating infrastructure on campus is owned and operated by the University, making it uniquely placed to play a key role in the project. Professor Mark Ormerod, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost of Keele University, said: “Energy and sustainability is a key overarching institutional priority for Keele University, and we are delighted to be a partner in this important, highly relevant and prestigious project. This collaborative project tackles one of the major societal challenges and has the potential to be highly impactful and lead to a significant reduction in carbon emissions.”

David Parkin, Director of Network Strategy at National Grid Gas Distribution Limited, said: “Ofgem’s decision to award National Grid £6.8million recognises the important role for the UK’s world class gas grid in delivering low carbon heat. We believe introducing a hydrogen blend nationally has the potential to save over 6million tonnes of carbon emissions every year and could unlock even wider savings through more extensive use of hydrogen.”

“This is an extremely exciting time for the energy industry. We believe this project will prove blended hydrogen gas can be distributed and used safely and efficiently in the existing gas network, an essential pre-requisite for the wider deployment of clean, cost-effective hydrogen in the UK gas grid.”

Martin Alderson, Asset Management Director for Northern Gas Networks

In addition to Keele University, National Grid Gas Distribution Limited and Northern Gas Networks Limited, the HyDeploy Consortium also includes the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), hydrogen production company ITM Power plc and clean energy firm Progressive Energy. It is supported by gas experts KIWA Gastec and engineering company Otto Simon.