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Durham to support National Grid's first of its kind offline hydrogen research facility to explore how gas transmission networks could be used to transport hydrogen in the future.

OFGEM (The UK Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) has today announced funding for National Grid to construct a first of its kind offline hydrogen research facility which aims to understand how transmission assets in the UK could be used to transport hydrogen in the future to heat homes and deliver green energy to industry. The project is led by DNV GL, with project partners HSE, Northern Gas Networks (NGN), Fluxys and Universities of Durham and Edinburgh.

The facility, known as HyNTS FutureGrid, will be based in DNV GL’s site at Spadeadam, Cumbria and will be built from a range of decommissioned assets, to create a representative gas transmission network.

The hydrogen research facility will remain separate from the main National Transmission System, allowing for testing of up to 100% blends of hydrogen to be undertaken in a controlled environment, with no risk to the safety and reliability of the existing gas transmission network.

Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition will provide £9.07m of funding with the remaining amount coming from the project partners. The project aims to commence construction in 2021 with testing beginning in 2022.

Professor Tony Roskilly of Durham Energy Institute (DEI) and Lead for Hydrogen Research said “ We are delighted to be able to support this project. DEI strongly believes that the gas industry has a crucial role to play in decarbonising UK heating, industry and transport. Hydrogen is set to be a vital energy vector in our transition to Net Zero and the planned roadmap of activities at DNV GL Spadeadam will allow collaborative work, which is essential. The transportation of hydrogen will be a significant part of the future energy system and there is an urgent need to prove that the transmission network can be relied on in the same way it is today. This is the important focus of HyNTS FutureGrid.

Today’s announcement brings the UK closer to making transformative hydrogen supply and distribution a reality. We look forward to supporting DNV GL, and the project partners in their work to understand the challenges of distributing hydrogen through our national gas network.”

DEI is a supporter of this project, and will collaborate with NGGT to develop a range of future research and development (R&D) programmes including; hydrogen storage and compression, understanding consumer demand and the development and impact of new standards and regulations for the transport and distribution of hydrogen. The new facility will provide matchless capability for the gas industry, the supply chain, regulators, policy makers and academia to work together and to drive forward a hydrogen future.

Professor Tony Roskilly and his research team are leading national research networks for Hydrogen Fuelled Transportation and Decarbonising Heating and Cooling. They are also developing hydrogen fuelled transport powertrains, CHP and integrated energy hubs, as well as research on the utilisation of captured CO2. He is the Academic Lead for the Teesside Industrial Cluster which is at the forefront of demonstrating hydrogen and CCS development.

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