Gas network company Cadent has announced ambitious plans to begin sourcing and using hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas.
The HyNet project is 30-year, £900 million, plan centred on a new production facility, probably located in Cheshire, that would convert natural gas into hydrogen for distribution locally and into Merseyside and Greater Manchester.
The hydrogen will be delivered to big industrial users via a new pipeline connected directly to up to 10 sites, including oil refineries and manufacturing plants. Some would be blended (at volumes up to 20%) with the natural gas currently used for domestic purposes, supplying two million homes in Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.
The carbon dioxide emissions from the hydrogen production process will be transported and stored in repurposed gas fields in Liverpool Bay and elsewhere off the North West coast, which are due to be decommissioned soon.
Simon Fairman, director of safety and network strategy at Cadent, said: “We chose the region because it is already home to 10% of the UK’s biggest industrial users of gas, as well as it having an ideal site on the doorstep to store the carbon that is produced in making hydrogen.
“HyNet will create and secure thousands of jobs – up to 80% locally – through the design, installation, construction and operation of the new hydrogen and carbon storage infrastructure needed. We are talking huge numbers, but we are also talking about a huge impact in solving a problem facing us all in the UK, how to decarbonise heat.
“This is Cadent showing leadership through innovation. But we need to work together and clear some hurdles yet if we are to make this clean growth for the UK happen. We need a favourable Government policy mechanism for CCUS [carbon capture, usage and storage].”
Luke Warren, chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, said: “The Government’s Clean Growth Strategy published last year recognises the benefits of CCUS to multiple sectors of the UK economy. Projects like HyNet can make a real contribution to the strategy and help to create and preserve a significant number of clean growth jobs in the North West.
“The government has committed to releasing a CCUS deployment pathway by the end of this year. This must set an ambitious new approach so that the investment needed to progress projects like HyNet is secured.”