Should we inject hydrogen into gas grids? Practicalities and whole-system value chain optimisation

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Abstract

Injection of hydrogen into existing natural gas grids, either partially or as a complete conversion, could decarbonise heat and take advantage of the inherent flexibility that gas grids provide in a low-carbon future. However, hydrogen injection is not straightforward due to the differing properties of the gases and the need for low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen supply chains. In this study, an up-to-date assessment of the opportunities and challenges for hydrogen injection is provided. Through value chain optimisation, the outlook for hydrogen injection is considered in the context of a national energy system with a high reliance on natural gas. The optimisation captures the operational details of hydrogen injection and gas grid flexibility, whilst also modelling the wider context, including interactions with the electricity system and delivery of energy from primary resource to end-use. It is found that energy systems are ready for partial hydrogen injection now, and that relatively low feed-in tariffs (£20-50/MWh) could incentivise it. Partial hydrogen injection could provide a stepping stone for developing a hydrogen infrastructure, but large scale decarbonisation of gas grids requires complete conversion to hydrogen. Whether this solution is preferable to electrification in the long term will depend on the value of the gas grid linepack flexibility, and the costs of expanding electricity infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number115172
JournalApplied Energy
Volume275
Early online date27 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

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