Wales & West Utilities gets go-ahead to inject hydrogen to grid in Swindon

By Anita Jaynes on 31 August, 2021

Wales & West Utilities has received the green light from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to inject gas containing up to 1 per cent hydrogen into its gas network in Swindon, the first time that they have permitted natural gas with an elevated hydrogen level to be used in the national network.

The gas emergency and pipeline service is working with ABSL, which will inject Bio-substitute Natural Gas (BioSNG) into the existing gas network at their plant in Swindon. This will reduce the carbon emissions by up to 5,000 tonnes for almost 2,500 local homes immediately. The BioSNG produced at the plant will have a hydrogen content up to 1 per cent, which has required an exemption to standard requirements.

The plant is expected to start injecting BioSNG into the grid in October.

This latest development builds on Wales & West Utilities commitment to prepare the gas network to transport green gases like hydrogen and biomethane – which supports the decarbonisation of home heating, heavy industry, businesses and transport. Earlier this year the company joined with Britain’s other gas network companies, as part of Energy Networks Association’s plan – Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan – which set out the detail of the activity to turn Britain’s hydrogen ambitions into reality – including working towards blending up to 20 per cent hydrogen into local gas grids by 2023 and converting villages to run on 100 per cent hydrogen by 2025.

Sarah Williams, Wales & West Utilities Director of Regulation and Asset Strategy, said, “We’re delighted to get permission from the HSE to start injecting gas with up to 1 per cent hydrogen into our network in Swindon. This will help reduce the carbon emissions from local homes today without any impact on our customers or their appliances. This is another important step in demonstrating the use of the existing safe and reliable gas network in the UK to transport hydrogen. 

“The 2020s must be a decade of delivery, where we put the research and development work that has been done on hydrogen into practice. This project will help support ambitious plans across the UK to convert villages to hydrogen, help heavy industry decarbonise, and meet Government’s aspirations on hydrogen for home heating.”

Nathan Burkey, Executive Chairman at ABSL, added, “ABSL is a leading producer of low carbon fuels made from household waste. Our RadGas process operates at its highest efficiency when producing hydrogen and we are pleased to work with Wales & West Utilities to help develop the use of hydrogen in heating.”

Wales & West Utilities is the company that look after the pipes that keep the gas flowing to heat the homes and power businesses of 7.5m people across Wales and south west England. They operate the gas emergency service, connect new homes and businesses, and upgrade the gas network so it’s safe today and fit for the future.

The company is also committed to playing its part in getting to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. 46 power stations connected to its network support renewables like wind and solar power while 19 green gas sites inject enough decarbonised green gas to power approx. 180,000 homes, Additionally, company’s network supplies bus garages in three locations across the south west of England, fuelling CNG buses that improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions from public transport.

Pictured above: Andy Cornell, ABSL Chief Executive Officer with Iain Morley, Wales & West Utilities Hydrogen Transportation Manager