The National Grid HyDeploy Consortium looking into the introduction of blended hydrogen in the UK gas grid has been granted £6.8 million Ofgem funding to conduct trials on Keele University campus.

The HyDeploy project aims to inject hydrogen, a clean, carbon-free gas, into the existing natural gas network, potentially preventing 120 million tonnes of carbon reaching the atmosphere by 2050.

The key enabling project will establish a framework for hydrogen gas-to-grid injection in the UK using the independent gas network at Keele University in Staffordshire, paving the way for a future low-carbon gas grid. With the largest campus in the UK, Keele University owns and operates its own gas network – an ideal site for the project.

The Ofgem funding, together with £760k contributed by National Grid and Northern Gas Networks, will be used to provide hydrogen production and injection facilities at the university and to run a rigorous experimental testing and safety programme.

According to National Grid, the three-year project will begin in 2017 and the results will be used to inform a further public trial of the use of hydrogen-blended natural gas in the UK grid, with the intention of then rolling out the use of hydrogen blends nationwide.

If the project is successful, this will enable hydrogen to be blended with natural gas in gas networks across the country to a maximum of 20% of the total volume of gas in the network. Gas users would not notice any change - no changes would be required to gas appliances and it would be no less safe than using natural gas.

The HyDeploy consortium includes National Grid, Northern Gas Networks, Keele University, The Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), ITM Power and Progressive Energy. It is supported by gas experts KIWA Gastec and engineering company Otto Simon.

Hydeploy Consortium member ITM Power, an energy storage and clean fuel company, will be supplying a 0.5MW electrolyser to the programme.

Dr Graham Cooley, CEO, ITM Power, commented: "This award by Ofgem to fund a demonstration of the use of hydrogen in the gas grid is the first step towards the creation of a UK power-to-gas market, which will play an important part in the decarbonisation of the UK gas grid. We are delighted to be a contributor to setting out the structure and benefits to the public of this new market."