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Wales & West Utilities will be ready to start to blending hydrogen in its gas network from 2023, helping to support communities with more secure, homegrown energy supplies.

Along with the rest of Britain’s gas networks, Wales & West Utilities has set out how it will meet the Government’s target for gas pipes to be ready to deliver up to 20% hydrogen to homes and businesses around the country from 2023, as a replacement for up to a fifth of the natural gas currently used.

The new plan published by energy network companies has been announced by Energy Networks Association (ENA) in its Britain’s Hydrogen Blending Delivery Plan.

The companies are also calling for the UK Government to double its domestic 2030 hydrogen production target from 5GW to 10GW, to make sure that as much hydrogen as possible is produced from sources in the UK.

Blending 20% hydrogen into the gas grid will reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 2.5 million cars a year, without any changes needed to be made to people’s cookers, boilers or heating systems.

Britain’s Hydrogen Blending Delivery Plan sets out:

  • A new ‘Target 2023’ timeline that all five of Britain’s gas network companies will follow, so homes are able to benefit from hydrogen as a replacement for up to a fifth of the natural gas currently used, from the winter of 2023/4 onwards.
  • Two options that the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy should choose from for the energy infrastructure changes that need to be made to allow hydrogen blending to happen from 2023 – a Strategic Approach and a Free Market Approach.
  • The legal changes that must be made by Government and regulatory bodies across five key ‘Market Pillars’ to make sure gas network companies can start blending hydrogen into the gas grid from 2023.

The Plan builds on the progress made by gas network companies through a number of hydrogen projects, which have demonstrated that blending hydrogen with natural gas is feasible and safe. In August 2021, Wales & West Utilities got the go ahead from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to start blending gas containing up to 1% hydrogen into its existing gas network in Swindon.

Sarah Williams, Wales & West Utilities Director of Regulation & Asset Strategy, said:

Alongside the other UK gas networks we are committed to converting our existing safe and reliable gas network to transport green gases like hydrogen and biomethane which will help the UK get to Net Zero in a sustainable and affordable way, while minimising disruption to energy consumers.

The 2020s must be a decade of delivery, where we put the research and development work that has been done on hydrogen into practice.

David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, said:

Whether it be heating our homes, powering our businesses or generating cleaner electricity, hydrogen will help drive up our energy security, while driving down our carbon emissions – and Britain’s gas grid companies are ready to get on with the job of delivering that.

This plan sets out the changes needed to deliver cleaner, more secure energy supplies for all. What’s key is that the Government does its bit too by lifting its target for homegrown hydrogen production this decade. Doing that today will help gas grid companies deliver for tomorrow.