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GTC launches the UK’s first 100% hydrogen supply pipeline

The UK’s leading utilities infrastructure partner, GTC, is working with Kiwa Energy to launch a first-of-its-kind 100% hydrogen supply pipeline.

Working alongside other industry partners, GTC designed and constructed the 370m pipeline using 180mm PE80 pipe, which is typically used in low pressure gas distribution networks. The pipe delivers hydrogen to Kiwa Energy’s new testing laboratory in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Gas emergency and pipeline company, Wales & West Utilities, will provide the emergency service to the pipeline. This will be the first in the UK to use the same odorant as the natural gas distribution network.

John Trounson, GTC’s Group Managing Director, said: “Our partnership with Kiwa Energy on this project showcases our commitment to decarbonisation.  This initiative is pioneering and while it’s on a relatively small scale, it shows that 100% hydrogen is possible and can absolutely be upscaled for larger projects.”

There are trials currently underway across the country, but they only use 20% hydrogen with 80% methane.

John continues: “The technical, safety and regulatory aspects of using 100% hydrogen are extensive, and consequently there are many considerations that need to be taken into account.  GTC’s ongoing investment into the skills and expertise of our teams has made this project possible and we are delighted to help the sector demonstrate the practicalities of using hydrogen to decarbonise heat.”

Kiwa Energy plays a significant role in energy transformation and provides testing, inspection, certification, training, and consultancy across a multitude of sectors, including utilities.

There are several ways to produce hydrogen, and in this instance, Kiwa Energy is steam methane reforming gas from a local biomethane to grid facility. In this process, methane reacts with steam to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

Sarah Nichols, Business Unit Leader at Kiwa Energy, said: “This project is a UK first for many reasons.  It’s the first hydrogen pipeline to be operated in compliance with the Gas Act (1986), we’re the first UK organisation to produce and use odourised hydrogen, and our production site is designed to demonstrate and test new technologies for carbon capture and hydrogen clean-up.  These technologies will be essential to reducing the carbon content and cost of future hydrogen

Working in partnership with GTC allows us to apply our expertise all the way from producing hydrogen, delivering it through the pipeline, and then using it in our labs, all with safety as our top priority.”

Sarah Williams, Wales & West Utilities Director of Regulation, Asset Strategy & HSE, said: “We’re proud to be working alongside our partners at GTC and Kiwa Energy to deliver this exciting initiative. This project is a promising step forward in reaching our net-zero targets and showcases the safe piping of 100% hydrogen with the same smell as natural gas.”

Kiwa Energy’s testing laboratory opened in September 2022 and GTC’s pipeline is supplying 100% hydrogen to the facility right now. The new lab showcases the possibilities available to other companies looking to convert their own facilities to 100% hydrogen usage.

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