Irish Industry ready to take up to 20% blends of hydrogen

More than 90% of equipment powered across industries and large businesses in Ireland is already capable of using up to 20% of hydrogen, when blended with natural gas, an all-island conference heard today.

This is the main finding from the ‘Renewable Hydrogen and End-users Considerations for the Transition to a Renewable Gas Network (HyEnd)’ report which was launched by Gas Networks Ireland, operator of Ireland’s state-owned gas network - at the annual Hydrogen Ireland Conference in Belfast today.

This is the latest report to be published from ongoing research into hydrogen on Ireland’s gas network, which is being carried out by the University College Dublin’s Energy Institute (UCDEI) and the team at Gas Networks Ireland’s Network Innovation Centre in Citywest, Dublin. Funding was provided by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under the SFI Industry RDI Fellowship Programme and by Gas Networks Ireland’s Innovation Fund.

The research involves over 300 of the largest users of networked gas in the country and found that 90% of the end users equipment is compatible with blends of 20% hydrogen, while the remaining 10% of Irish industry would need further assessment to determine the modifications required.

Sectoral users

The research included 42 ‘Large Daily Metered’ (LDM) customers and 270 ‘Daily Metered’ (DM) customers. The LDM category of gas customers, accounts for approximately 72% of all gas used in the country and comprises power plants and those that need high heat for their processing - such as agri-food plants, chemicals and pharmaceutical industries. The DM category includes customers from the hospitality and education sectors, as well as hospitals, apartment blocks and shopping centres.

If all LDM and DM gas customers were fuelled by natural gas blended with 20% hydrogen, it would reduce CO2 emissions in the State by up to 7%.

Launching the report, Gas Networks Ireland’s Customer and Business Development Director, David Kelly said:

“This report is significant as it gives an indication of how ready Ireland is for blended hydrogen, which is likely to be on the gas network in the UK  within several years.  Along with findings from our overall research and hydrogen programme - which aligns with the main takeaways in the Government’s National Hydrogen Strategy to get clarity on end users’ needs and enable infrastructure - it will form part of the roadmap on integrating renewable hydrogen and decarbonising the gas network.

“The gas network is Ireland’s hydrogen compatible infrastructure and reliable energy backbone which will continue to play a central role in the country’s future clean energy and hydrogen economies.

“Introducing blends of hydrogen gas into the existing gas network would cause minimal disruption to Irish industry and businesses connected to the gas network as the pipelines are already in the ground and the majority of their infrastructure and equipment is proven to already be hydrogen compatible, as demonstrated through this research.

“Doing this would mean that industries and businesses would be seamlessly supported on their net zero journeys, while still having the high heat they need from the more calorific energy that is gas, to fuel their processes. This would also substantially reduce the country’s carbon emissions while complementing intermittent renewable electricity and ensuring a more diverse and secure energy supply for Ireland.”

The EU is predicting that circa 14% of energy consumption across Europe will be from hydrogen by 2050, while it is expected to be 20-35%in the Netherlands, and up to 50 % of the total energy demand in the UK.

Gas Networks Ireland’s HyEnd report contains the conclusions and results from the second phase of the utility's hydrogen research with UCDEI.

Phase one, which was completed in late 2022 focused primarily on domestic appliances, which were tested with a variety of hydrogen blends. The research found that domestic appliances could take up to 20% of hydrogen blended with natural gas without the need for retrofitting, modifications or additional costs. The report from phase one can be found here: "Testing of Blends of Hydrogen and Natural Gas (HyTest)."

Phase three of this research,  HyGreenNet which will focus on the gas distribution network and investigate pressure, safety and material compatibility, is underway with results expected before the end of 2024.

Aside from this research, Gas Networks Ireland is one of several industry stakeholders funding a €16 million strategic partnership with Irish third-level institutions that will examine how to holistically decarbonise the overall Irish energy sector. Led by UCDEI, NexSys (Next Generation Energy System) is also supported by SFI.  

Finally, Gas Networks Ireland continues to invest in other strategic hydrogen research partnerships, including one with Ulster University on hydrogen blend safety and with AMBER (SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) on materials compatibility with hydrogen.

The ‘Renewable Hydrogen and End-users Considerations for the Transition to a Renewable Gas Network (HyEnd)’ report is available to download here.

Download the (HyEnd) Report