hydrogen getty

A project to repurpose natural gas pipelines to deliver hydrogen has been given a green light to proceed to the next stage by the energy regulator Ofgem.

Gas distribution company SGN has been given approval to trial running hydrogen gas through a 30km decommissioned pipeline between Grangemouth refinery and Granton, on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

SGN’s £30m LTS Futures project is verifying the compatibility of Great Britain’s local transmission system (LTS) with hydrogen gas.

Over the past year, a team of SGN engineers and researchers have carried out surveys and assessments to determine the integrity of the pipeline. The tests included an operation which involves pushing a Pipeline Inspection Gauge (PIG) through the pipeline using compressed air to clean it and identify any critical defects. A hydrotest was also conducted, for which engineers filled the entire pipeline with water exceeding the pressure the pipeline will be exposed to during the live trial. The team has also inspected the condition of the pipeline above ground, below ground and at river crossings.

SGN submitted evidence gathered from the testing to Ofgem, which has confirmed the suitability of the pipeline for hydrogen testing – giving the green light for the project to progress to the next stage.

Gemma Simpson, SGN Director of LTS Futures, said: “We’re delighted Ofgem has allowed us to continue to the second stage gate for this critical project which will be to connect the existing pipeline to a hydrogen supply from our project partners, INEOS. Offsite trials will allow us to test procedures for making new connections to the pipeline. This includes the first ever live welding procedure on a hydrogen pipeline.

“If we’re successful we’ll be able to proceed to a live trial in 2024 which will deliver a blueprint for repurposing Great Britain’s LTS network, driving decarbonisation and supporting our net zero goals.”

The SGN project is looking into the use of hydrogen for heating homes and business but other projects are researching the viability of delivering to hydrogen to refuelling stations via natural gas pipelines.