Cadent, the gas network operator for north-west England, has outlined an ambitious proposal to introduce hydrogen into the gas network around Liverpool and Manchester. If the plan goes ahead it could transform energy in the UK and help decarbonise heat. The project aims decarbonise heat on a large scale, requiring no changes to heating or other appliances, but would need support from a range of stakeholders.
The conceptual study by Progressive Energy explains how hydrogen could be used in place of natural gas (methane) to power industry in the region. Excess hydrogen could then be blended with natural gas to heat homes and businesses across the Liverpool and Manchester areas, without the need to change appliances such as boilers.
The region is home to 11 per cent of Britain’s existing industrial gas users, as well as four million domestic consumers of gas (for heating and cooking). It also has nearby offshore gas fields in Liverpool Bay that are nearing the end of their operational lives, and which Cadent says could be the perfect location to store the carbon dioxide (CO2) created during the production of hydrogen.
David Parkin, director of safety and network strategy at Cadent, said: “While this is a study on paper, it’s a very real project. It has potential to transform the future of energy in the UK and be a long-term solution to decarbonising heat. We’ve published our conceptual study in full today and now begin a process to engage with and take on the views of key stakeholders and potential partners. We’ll then be able to assess whether there is the appetite out there to take this ambitious concept forward.”
The paper outlines how Cadent’s estimated timetable envisages that a final investment decision for the project could be before the end of the next UK Parliament (in 2022). It also explains that the project would support the objectives of the Government’s forthcoming ‘Clean Growth Plan’ and Industrial Strategy White Paper. The potential cost of the project (estimated in the study to be around £600M) would be lower, and hold less development risk, if funded as an allowable expenditure within regulator Ofgem’s RIIO price control mechanism, along with Government input to underwrite certain carbon capture storage risks and costs.
The Cadent study also explains how existing pipelines would be used for carbon dioxide transport, and a new hydrogen pipeline created, largely following the Manchester Ship Canal. There would also be a new hydrogen production and carbon capture plant. The exact quantities of hydrogen to be introduced into the gas network will be determined according to the results from a ground-breaking HyDeploy innovation project in which Cadent is involved at Keele’s university campus.