Who is SGN?
We manage the network that distributes natural and green gas to almost 6 million homes and businesses across the south of England and Scotland. Whoever your supplier is, our pipes deliver gas safely, reliably and efficiently to every one of our customers.
We’re about more than just pipes. Our people are passionate about helping in our communities, driving innovation in our industry and reducing our carbon footprint. We were the first network to connect a commercial biomethane plant and today we’re leading the drive to deliver the world’s first net zero gas network.
You can find out more about the essential services we deliver at sgn.co.uk.
What is H100 Fife?
H100 Fife aims to deliver a first of a kind demonstration of a 100% hydrogen network, initially supplying 300 domestic customers. The project is set out to prove the role that hydrogen can play in decarbonising heat and will comprise of an end to end system, including power generation incorporating offshore wind, hydrogen production, storage, pressure reduction, odorisation, distribution and customer connections serving domestic hydrogen meters and appliances.
Local customers in Levenmouth will be the first in the world to heat their homes and cook their food using 100% zero carbon hydrogen. As customers will have the choice to take part, the project will gather important evidence on customer attitudes towards hydrogen gas.
How has the site for this project been chosen?
Levenmouth was chosen following a nationwide search for the most suitable site for the first 100% hydrogen network and hydrogen supply and storage facility. Access to offshore wind, an existing gas network with customers using natural gas and a dedicated energy park all supported the final decision.
What local benefits will the project bring?
We’re working closely with key local stakeholders to make sure the benefits of this project are delivered with the local community in mind.
We’re committed to providing training and skills development throughout the project, working with local education and training providers to bring opportunities for young people and the existing building and utility workforce. Where possible, the project will use local contractors and service providers.
The Hydrogen Demonstration Facility will offer a dedicated space for the project and hydrogen appliance demonstration. It will also be used for events, education workshops and training sessions. We expect the project and the facility will be visited by a wide range of delegates from UK and international organisations, bringing positive economic benefits for local businesses.
Customers who chose to take part in the project will receive new appliances at no cost, with free maintenance and servicing over the length of the project.
We’ll continue to engage with the local community throughout the project, and beyond, to make sure local benefits are maximised.
What is the timeline for the project?
We’re aiming to begin construction of the H100 Fife Site in 2021 and continue into 2022.
Potential customers will be invited to the Hydrogen Demonstration Facility in 2022 and we plan to have 300 customers signed up prior to the hydrogen network going live at the end of 2022. We’ll aim to have all participating customers on hydrogen within the first 6 months, allowing us to phase customer connections. Disruption to the individual customer will be minimal, with the time off gas expected to be less than 24 hours for the changeover from natural gas to hydrogen.
The project will be operational for 4.5 years until March 2027. Beyond this date, an enduring solution will be implemented depending on the project’s success.
Who are the customers of the H100 Fife project?
This has not been decided yet. Customers in the proposed network area will be contacted once this decision has been made. There will be lots of opportunities to learn more about hydrogen gas, H100 Fife and what it means to be involved in the project before they decide if they want to take part.
How much would it cost me to participate in this project as a customer?
There will be no additional cost to customers taking part in the project. Any customer that opts-in will have hydrogen meters and hydrogen gas appliances supplied on a like-for-like basis free of charge. The installation and maintenance costs of the appliances and meters will also be covered by the project and at no cost to the customer.
The energy bill that a hydrogen gas customer can expect to pay will be at the energy unit cost of a natural gas bill based on their usage and tariff.
Customers can also opt-out of the project and their natural gas supply will be reinstated and natural gas appliances and meters will be installed at no charge.
What if the hydrogen network is being built in my street but I don’t want a hydrogen supply?
Customers in the network area will have the choice of opting in for a hydrogen gas supply or remaining with their existing natural gas supply. Customers who do not want to be part of the project will not be forced to switch to hydrogen gas.
I live nearby the site and I’m concerned about noise and pollution levels. What is being done to address this?
All necessary noise assessments for site operations have been completed for our planning application and discussed with Fife Council. All road traffic and system noise assessments were completed following national guidance. The road traffic assessments showed that no significant effects are likely to occur. The assessment for the system operation confirmed that with the implementation of suitable design measures, the noise effects would not be significant and are not expected to exceed background noise level.
An assessment of air quality as a result of the construction and operation of H100 Fife has taken place for the planning application. This has identified the measures that will be required to ensure the air quality is managed to an acceptable level.
Both natural gas and hydrogen gas are odourless. Odorant is added to the natural gas networks across the UK to ensure it can be easily detected in the unlikely event of a leak. We will be using the same odorant to give hydrogen gas a smell. This odorant is added to the gas in a closed system and will not be noticeable in the local vicinity.
What is hydrogen gas?
Hydrogen is the smallest and lightest element in the universe and is normally a gas.
It is colourless, odourless, tasteless and non-toxic.
When burned, hydrogen atoms bond with oxygen atoms. The bonding process releases a large amount of energy and all that is left behind is a small amount of water. Because hydrogen gas doesn’t produce carbon when it burns it has the potential to be used to heat our homes and businesses without contributing towards climate change.
What are the benefits of hydrogen gas?
Over 85% of homes in the UK have gas central heating which accounts for about a third of the UK’s carbon emissions. Switching natural gas for hydrogen gas could allow us to continue to use the existing gas networks and offer customers a low cost, low disruption solution to heating their homes, while fighting climate change.
Hydrogen gas is similar to natural gas, but it has the benefit of being carbon neutral – it can be used in a boiler to keep our houses warm, and it can be used to cook, just like the natural gas we use today.
Hydrogen gas has the potential to play a major part in helping us meet the UK’s legally binding net zero emissions targets. As well as using it to heat our homes and businesses, hydrogen gas can be used as a transport fuel and to power factories and industrial plants.
How is hydrogen gas produced?
Hydrogen gas is currently produced in two main ways:
Steam Methane Reformation
Steam Methane Reformation transforms natural gas (mainly methane) and high-temperature-steam into hydrogen and carbon dioxide using a catalyst.
Hydrogen gas produced in this way is known as blue hydrogen when the carbon emissions created during the production process are safely captured, transported and stored. Hydrogen gas produced without the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is called grey hydrogen.
Electrolysis is when an electric current is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. If the electricity used for the electrolysis process is from renewable sources, such as solar, wind or hydro, the resulting hydrogen gas has zero carbon emissions and is known as green hydrogen.
H100 Fife will use green hydrogen produced with renewable electricity generated by local offshore wind.
How is hydrogen stored?
Hydrogen can be stored as a gas or a liquid.
To be stored as a liquid, hydrogen needs to be cooled to approximately -252⁰C, it is then stored in purpose built metal tanks. Hydrogen for small scale systems such as H100 Fife is usually stored under pressure as a gas in specially designed tanks made of modern composite materials or steel that cannot be made brittle by the gas.
For larger scale storage of hydrogen gas, salt caverns can be used. This involves the storage of hydrogen gas underground in a mined-out salt cavern. There are several operational sites in the world that utilise salt caverns for hydrogen gas storage such as the US and Teesside in the UK. This is not being considered under H100 Fife.
Is hydrogen gas safe?
Safety is at the heart of everything we do. Your safety, and the safety of our employees, is our number one priority as we keep gas flowing to homes and businesses.
An extensive amount of work has been conducted by the gas networks, the gas industry and experts both in the UK and around the world to show that hydrogen gas is a suitable replacement for natural gas. This includes research and testing to understand how hydrogen gas behaves and how it can be used safely, demonstrating that the overall level of risk associated with hydrogen gas is no more than the current level of risk associated with natural gas. In fact, hydrogen gas has safety benefits over natural gas in that there are no carbon monoxide emissions associated with green hydrogen.
The H100 Fife Site has been designed to make sure that the hydrogen gas production and storage facility is located at a safe distance from neighbouring properties.
Hydrogen in the gas networks is not new. Before the discovery of North Sea gas in the 1960s and the conversion to natural gas in the 70s, UK households were supplied with ‘town gas’ of which hydrogen was the main component along with carbon monoxide and methane.
It’s important to remember that many substances that we use in our daily lives can become unsafe if not handled or used correctly, including the natural gas we currently use to heat our homes. The gas networks are made safe by design and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, our teams are working behind the scenes and out on the streets to keep you safe and the gas flowing. The same safety principles and priorities will be applied to hydrogen gas, with all appropriate risk assessments and safety measures being implemented to ensure a safe network.