Cadent has conducted a study into the potential use of hydrogen in gas networks around the Manchester and Liverpool areas.
The £600million project has a speculative completion date of 2022 and paves the way for long-term decarbonisation of the gas distribution networks.
Natural gas will not disappear however, as the proposals state it will be converted into hydrogen which burns much cleaner, in a process named steam methane reforming. A process which strips away the carbon dioxide content of the fuel.
It is believed that current Carbon Capture and Storage schemes would be able to capture the remainder, this would then be transported and stored in offshore reservoirs. The studies’ concept location was stated to be able to hold over 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
11% of Britain’s industrial gas users and 4 million domestic consumers are based in the Manchester and Liverpool areas, and the proximity to offshore gas fields makes the project all the more desirable.
Cadent believe that hydrogen can simply be used instead of current natural gas sources for the region’s industry, with any excess hydrogen being blended with domestic gas in a volume up to 20%, without any alteration of domestic appliances.
A study currently being undertaken at Keele University will help to determine the quantity of hydrogen to be introduced into the network, along with gauging public perception of the use of hydrogen in a public network, and the capability of current appliances to effectively run on a mixed fuel.
In addition, Cadent believe that as hydrogen sources in the area already exist, the skillset and knowledge surrounding its use along with existing pipeline and infrastructure, will aid them in testing and implementing their proposal much more smoothly.
The Final Investment Decision for implementation of the project is slated within the next parliament, a period starting from around June 2022. Further studies being carried out in early 2018 are expected to provide more detail of the project’s design.
Cadent believe the project could kick-start a similar set of initiatives across the UK to support cleaner energy plans within major industrial and gas consuming areas.
The project could also hold a wider benefit, by potentially providing businesses with the opportunity to develop new technologies related to transitioning to the use of hydrogen, providing the creation of new jobs and adding value to the local economy.
Cadent say: “The study findings show that hydrogen has the potential to deliver considerable progress in decarbonising heat, often assumed to be available only from the electricity system. The project is thus an important one that we will continue to track closely.”