National Grid has unveiled plans to create a £10 million mock-up of a hydrogen transmission network to test how its assets perform with the gas at high pressure.

The grid will be installed by DNV GL at its site in Spadeadam using a range of decommissioned assets. It will be linked up to a dummy distribution network that is also being built there as part of the long-running H21 programme led by Northern Gas Networks (NGN).

National Grid project director for hydrogen, Antony Green, said: “If we truly want to reach a net zero decarbonised future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen.

“Sectors such as heat are difficult to decarbonise, and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means trial projects like this are crucial if we are to deliver low carbon energy, reliably and safely to all consumers.”

Tim Harwood, H21 project director and head of programme management at NGN, said its distribution network will supply hydrogen to a row of purpose-built “HyStreet” research houses: “By adding transmission assets, we can then demonstrate a full beach-to-meter scenario, showing how the gas industry can collaborate together in a hydrogen future.”

National Grid has applied to receive funding for the project through Ofgem’s annual Network Innovation Competition. If successful, the company plans to begin construction in 2021 and commence testing the following year.

Other partners on the project include: Fluxys Belgium, the operator of Belgium’s gas transmission network; the science division of the Health and Safety Executive; and Durham University and the University of Edinburgh.

Thierry Bottequin, engineering manager at Fluxys Belgium, said: “This is an important step in investigating the conversion possibilities of our infrastructure for the transmission of hydrogen-natural gas blends and hydrogen.

“We believe that the multiphase scope of the project perfectly complements our own research to document the reliability, safety and integrity of the existing gas infrastructure when used to transport hydrogen.”