Oil & Gas

05 Aug 2023

Project to Repurpose Natural Gas Pipelines to Hydrogen Gets Green Light From Ofgem

05 Aug 2023  by PRESS RELEASE   

Hydrogen project progresses to next stage following successful tests on pipeline between Grangemouth and Granton in Scotland

Approval by regulator Ofgem represents key milestone for this first-of-its-kind hydrogen project

More testing including the first ever live welding on a hydrogen pipeline will now take place in preparation for a live demonstration in 2024

Gas distribution company SGN has been given approval by its regulator Ofgem to proceed to the next stage of its project to trial 100% hydrogen gas through a 30 km decommissioned pipeline between Grangemouth and Granton.

Repurposing Great Britain’s gas grid to hydrogen, could help decarbonise multiple sectors including industry, transport and heat. Leading UK gas infrastructure firms are helping to build an evidence base for hydrogen which will inform UK Government heat policy decisions expected in 2026.

SGN’s £30 million LTS Futures project is verifying the compatibility of Great Britain’s local transmission system (LTS) with hydrogen gas. The company has been carrying out tests on the suitability of a decommissioned pipeline for a live hydrogen repurposing trial. This pipeline is 30 km long and runs from Grangemouth refinery to Granton, on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

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.

“We believe hydrogen has the potential to provide customers with a choice on how they heat their homes as part of a whole systems approach for decarbonising heat.”

Rebecca Pickett, Ofgem Head of Future Gas Policy, Networks, said: “We welcome SGN's progress with LTS Futures and recognise the potential importance of exploring innovative solutions to decarbonise our energy sector.”


Image caption: Tests that have been carried out on the decommissioned pipeline between Grangemouth and Granton in Scotland.

Notes to Editors

About SGN

SGN manages the network which distributes natural and green gas to approximately six million homes and businesses across Scotland and southern England. Their pipes deliver gas safely, reliably and efficiently to each of these customers. SGN is committed to caring for our customers, especially those in vulnerable circumstances, working with specialist organisations on initiatives aimed at making a positive impact on society and improving the lives of the people in our communities. Alongside the UK and Scottish Governments and the other gas distribution networks, SGN is also developing the world’s first zero-carbon gas grid and shaping a net zero future for the UK.

About LTS Futures

The Local Transmission System (LTS) is the backbone of our energy network, delivering gas from National Transmission System (NTS) offtakes to towns and cities across the country.

Gas distribution networks manage around 11,000km of these high-pressure pipelines, which were originally designed to transport and store natural gas. The LTS takes gas from the National Transmission System at a reduced pressure, so that it can be transported directly to industry. It also feeds into gas distribution networks to be used in homes and by businesses after further reductions in pressure. An important function of the LTS is to store gas when demand is low, so we have a resilient supply of gas covering peak times in the day and periods of cold weather.

Domestic heating accounts for 37% of all UK carbon emissions, so SGN’s LTS Futures project is researching how to repurpose the LTS to carry hydrogen instead of natural gas, which could significantly help to achieve net zero.

The project culminates in a first of a kind live trial in 2024, where a decommissioned pipeline in Grangemouth will be repurposed for hydrogen service. The outcomes from the trial and this

extensive testing and research programme will allow SGN to develop a blueprint methodology for repurposing the entire Great Britain LTS network for hydrogen, and will provide evidence which will inform the UK Government’s heat policy decision on hydrogen expected in 2026.


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