A ground breaking green energy trial is underway at Keele University.
HyDeploy is a pioneering project which seeks to revolutionise the country’s energy network by trialling a blend of up to 20% hydrogen with natural gas.
The £7 million scheme is aiming to cut carbon emissions.
It is being used at the existing natural gas network, feeding 100 homes and 30 faculty buildings on campus.
Backed by Ofgem’s Network Innovation Competition, the project is led by Cadent in partnership with Northern Gas Networks, Keele University, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Science Division, integrated hydrogen energy systems manufacturer ITM-Power, and independent clean energy company Progressive Energy.
The trial will run throughout 2020, and aims to show the mixture could provide a safe and efficient alternative to current gas supplies using the same appliances or pipework, while still cutting carbon emissions.
Heating for domestic properties and industry accounts for half of the UK’s energy consumption and one third of its carbon emissions, with 83% of homes using gas to keep warm.
If a 20% hydrogen blend was rolled out across the country it could save around six million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year - the equivalent of taking 2.5 million cars off the road.
Professor Mark Ormerod, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost at Keele University, said: “Sustainability and low carbon energy is a key overarching institutional priority for Keele University, and we are delighted to be a key partner in HyDeploy.
"HyDeploy is a pioneering landmark national demonstration project, using our campus as a genuine 'living laboratory' for low carbon and energy-efficient technologies.
"HyDeploy has the potential to be hugely impactful and lead to a step change in the reduction of carbon emissions associated with heat.”
Ed Syson, Chief Safety and Strategy Officer for Cadent, said: “It is impossible to overstate the importance of this trial to the UK - this is the first ever practical demonstration of hydrogen in a modern gas network in this country.
"Hydrogen can help us tackle one of the most difficult sources of carbon emissions – heat.
"This trial could pave the way for a wider roll out of hydrogen blending, potentially enabling us to begin cutting carbon emissions from heat by the early 2020s, without customers needing to change their gas appliances or behaviour.
"HyDeploy could also prove to be the launchpad for a wider hydrogen economy, fuelling industry and transport, bringing new jobs and making Britain a world-leader in this technology.
"Urgent action is needed on carbon emissions and HyDeploy is an important staging post on that journey in the UK.”
Mark Horsley, Chief Executive, Northern Gas Networks, said: “Hydrogen is a key piece of the decarbonisation jigsaw, and this milestone allows us to take a huge leap forwards in terms of its use in meeting climate change targets.
"The HyDeploy project allows us to start making a difference to emissions today and we’re very excited to be a part of it.”