3 October 2023

Public consultation

On 15 September, the Government launched a public consultation to gather views on the possibility of blending hydrogen into the UK’s gas distribution network.

The idea is to blend up to 20% of hydrogen with natural gas – a percentage that does not require changes to the network infrastructure or to consumers’ appliances.

The goal of hydrogen blending, if enabled, is twofold. On one hand, since hydrogen does not release carbon emissions when burned, adding it to the grid would significantly reduce the environmental footprint of domestic heating. On the other, the size and scope of the project would likely stimulate the growth of a thriving hydrogen economy – including R&D, deployment and trouble-shooting. This is seen as crucial to accelerate the transition to net zero, as hydrogen could be used to decarbonise hard to abate sectors such as logistics, shipping and aviation.


UK targets for hydrogen blending

Hydrogen is an energy carrier, rather than a source, that can deliver a huge energy content by weight. As a result, it has the potential to store and transport energy from other sources, such as intermittent renewables, for later use – a characteristic that makes hydrogen technology an extremely interesting option to support the UK’s clean energy transition.

In August 2021, the Government published the UK Hydrogen Strategy, a document outlining the country’s plans and targets to achieve a thriving, competitive but sustainable hydrogen economy.

In the Strategy, the Government stated its intention to reach a 5GW production capacity of low-carbon hydrogen by 2030. The British Energy Security Strategy further built on this target, committing to doubling production capacity to 10GW by the same year. Of these 10GW, at least half should come from electrolytic production. This refers to the process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electric current, with energy coming from renewable sources only – something that leads to the production of green hydrogen, the most sustainable form of hydrogen generation.

If achieved, this significant production capacity could contribute to the decarbonisation of the gas grid through blending. On the other hand, a governmental decision on the future of hydrogen blending could give hydrogen production the push – and strategic direction – it needs to develop at scale.


Why a consultation on hydrogen blending

Hydrogen blending comes with some important considerations. The risks associated with it are being continually evaluated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to ensure safe deployment. But the costs, environmental benefits, and logistical issues of using hydrogen in domestic heating must be also considered – which is why involving both experts and local communities in this decision is paramount.

To this purpose, the Government’s consultation aims at seeking views on different aspects of hydrogen blending, including but not limited to the nature and scope of blending policy, commercial support models, trading arrangements, delivery models, billing and more.

Everybody is welcome to take part, but the Government is particularly interested in opinions and advice from stakeholders involved in either the hydrogen or natural gas industries – such as producers, transporters, shippers, storage operators and investors. Consumer and trade associations are also invited to express their views, as are academics and independent researchers.

The consultation remains open until 11:59 pm on 27 October 2023. To participate, interested parties can either respond through an online survey or by emailing hydrogentransportandstorage@energysecurity.gov.uk. Replies will be most useful if they provide direct answers to the ten questions asked, ideally with supporting evidence.

Insights from the consultation will be analysed by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to address any relevant points or concerns raised. DESNZ also intends to continue to consult with stakeholders in the form of working groups and bilateral meetings.

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