REQUESTED EVIDENCE TO BUSINESS, ENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY COMMITTEE INQUIRY: CARBON CAPTURE, USAGE AND STORAGE – GAS STANDARDS, HYDROGEN AND GSMR
Haszeldine, Robert Stuart
Gas networks carry the majority of the UK’s energy supply. These can be readily converted from methane to hydrogen. In fact, pilot projects and other works are under way with safety as the primary criterion. However, a regulatory blockage is that the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations (GSMR) set in 1996 are extremely restrictive on the variation of UK gas supply. Less than 0.1% hydrogen can be incorporated into UK gas supply so that existing pilot tests can only be undertaken on limited, isolated networks. Coupled with this, customers are currently charged by calorific value of a gas based on a flow weighted average in a very small number of billing zones within the UK (specified within the Gas (Calculation of Thermal Energy) Regulations (CoTER)). There are only 13 zones and Scotland, for example, is just one zone, which requires all gas sources into that network to be enriched or deriched to the prevailing gas quality for the entire zone. This methodology has to change to allow blending of hydrogen into the network. Both these key pieces of outdated legislation will block demonstrations and roll-out of hydrogen blending or conversion. And this will block the UK’s decarbonisation progress. Funds for hydrogen blending and conversion should be included in the control period bids by gas networks, which will become settled in late 2019, for 2021-26 spending. GSMR and CoTER regulations can only be altered by Government, the Health and Safety Executive and Ofgem, respectively. That needs Government action. Guarantee of GSMR and CoTER changes will enable investment to be agreed by the boards of gas networks. Both GSMR and CoTER are on the decarbonisation critical path to adoption of hydrogen as an energy carrier through the existing gas infrastructure, be it through blending or full conversion.