Researching a cleaner energy future

The decarbonisation of Ireland’s gas network is essential if the country is to transition to a net-zero energy system by 2050, as laid out in the National Hydrogen Strategy and the Government’s Climate Action Plan. 

It is for this purpose that Gas Networks Ireland established its Network Innovation Centre, located in Citywest, Dublin two years ago. Our innovation team and subject matter experts have been participating in projects with external research partners to understand the full potential of hydrogen and ensure that the gas network is capable of safely transporting and storing both blended and up to 100% hydrogen into the future.

These projects in addition to others across our organisation will provide the data needed to understand how green hydrogen will impact the gas network and help ensure a smooth transition with minimal cost and disruption to Ireland’s energy system and our customers.

AMBER – Hydrogen Compatibility Research

Gas Networks Ireland and AMBER are researching the impact that green hydrogen blended with natural gas and biomethane, as well as pure green hydrogen, has on existing materials within Ireland’s gas network. 

The research project entitled "Material Testing and Development under Variable Hydrogen Ratios" is being carried out by scientists from AMBER – Science Foundation Ireland’s multi–university centre for world class Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research, hosted at Trinity College Dublin – in conjunction with engineers from Gas Networks Ireland. With initial funding of €220,000 in the first year, the project has the potential to run for up to five years. 

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HyEnd - Hydrogen blend limits for end users

The HyEnd report focuses on investigating the limits for Large Daily Metered (LDM) and Daily Metered (DM) gas customers in using hydrogen blends and aims to address two key questions:

  • What are the large and industrial customers' equipment limits for hydrogen blends up to 20%? 
  • How will Ireland's gas network need to adapt to transport the renewable hydrogen to serve these customers?

The report shows that a 20% hydrogen blend is a compatible mid-term plan to introduce 100% renewable gas in the gas network as a long-term plan by 2050. Analysis of customer surveys shows that 90% of LDMs will be able to operate with up to 20% hydrogen blends, but it is noted that 10% of LDM end users are currently restricted to 5% blends of hydrogen due to current equipment limitations.

The project has highlighted how it will be important to collaborate with end-users who deploy equipment and manufacturers to support the development of equipment that can operate efficiently with increased hydrogen blends.

The report was prepared by technical experts from Gas Networks Ireland, University College Dublin Energy Institute andScience Foundation Ireland (SFI).

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HyTest – Emissions Reductions

Technical experts from Gas Networks Ireland and the University College Dublin Energy Institute, completed a report on the impact of introducing green hydrogen with natural gas on home appliances. 

They found that appliances remain fully functional using a natural gas blend of up to 20% hydrogen. This means households in general will not need to make any changes to their existing domestic appliances or notice any difference. 

Their research also outlines that significant reductions in emissions can be achieved by blending hydrogen with natural gas. Examples of which including the following average emissions reductions for a standard domestic gas boiler operating at maximum load: 

  • 12% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO₂) 
  • 37% reduction in carbon monoxide (CO) 
  • 40% reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx) 
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European Hydrogen Backbone

Gas Networks Ireland is participating in a major European project to help the European Union meet its new accelerated goals and radically increase the use of hydrogen by 2030. 

The European Hydrogen Backbone initiative is focused on planning for the future development of a European hydrogen market through new pan-European hydrogen transport infrastructure. 

Five large-scale hydrogen pipeline corridors are envisaged. These new corridors will initially connect domestic local hydrogen supply and demand in Europe, before expanding and connecting European regions amongst each other, and then connecting neighbouring regions with hydrogen export potential. 

The planned hydrogen backbone network will largely be based on repurposing existing natural gas infrastructure. It is envisaged that by 2040, for example, Ireland could be connected to the new European hydrogen backbone via a repurposed subsea pipeline to the Moffat interconnector in Scotland. 

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NexSys - Academic Partnerships

Gas Networks Ireland is one of a number of industry partners contributing to the funding of a €16 million strategic research programme with Irish third level institutions that will examine how to holistically decarbonise the overall Irish energy sector.  

Led by University College Dublin’s Energy Institute (UCDEI), NexSys (Next Generation Energy System) is also supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).  Gas Networks Ireland is participating in a number of other strategic hydrogen research partnerships, including projects with Ulster University on hydrogen blend safety and with AMBER (the SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) on materials compatibility with hydrogen.  

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Hydrogen technical and safety feasibility study

In December 2021, the EU published proposals for its Hydrogen and Gas Market Decarbonisation Package, building upon it’s Hydrogen and Energy System Integration strategies published in July 2020. The proposals included plans for gas network operators to get ready for hydrogen / natural gas blends at interconnection points by 2025. The findings of the Gas Networks Ireland technical and safety feasibility study on ‘Injecting green hydrogen blends into Ireland’s gas network’, were very positive and indicate that it will be both safe and feasible to utilise the existing gas network to transport blends of hydrogen with natural gas.

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Hydrogen and Ireland’s National Gas Network

Hydrogen and Ireland’s National Gas Network, provides a high-level overview to interested parties of the current gas regulations and plans. It outlines the main areas that will need to be addressed and actions required in order to facilitate the injection, transportation and storage of hydrogen on the gas network in Ireland. Gas Networks Ireland believes hydrogen will play a critical role in decarbonising the gas network and is supportive of projects, which aim to deliver hydrogen to energy customers, for end-uses such as high-heat processes, transport, industry and dispatchable electricity generation, in a safe and secure manner. While there are different possible hydrogen supply chains, Gas Networks Ireland believes that the re-use and re-purposing of existing gas network infrastructure is a cost-effective gas transportation model.

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