The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has opened a hydrogen testing facility at its Science and Research Centre in Buxton, as part of the “H21 project”, which the health and safety watchdog says is currently the world's largest project to reduce carbon emissions.

Funded by the Government regulator for the electricity and downstream natural gas markets, Ofgem, the project is being led by Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the gas distributor for the North of England, in partnership with Cadent, SGN and Wales & West Utilities, HSE's Centre for Energy and DNV-GL.

The aim of the project is to try to establish if a hydrogen gas network is equally as safe as the natural gas grid.

The results will be critical in determining if it is safe to convert millions of homes across the country from natural gas to hydrogen.

HSE's Science and Research Centre is the first research facility in the world to carry out testing of existing network assets with 100% hydrogen.

The specially designed rig will explore how hydrogen behaves on a variety of equipment such as pipes, valves and joints compared with the behaviour of natural gas.

All the safety evidence collected during the experimental trials will assist the Government in progressing towards a policy decision on hydrogen by the mid 2020s.

Commenting on the project, Andrew Curran, HSE's Chief Scientific Adviser, said, "We are pleased to be part of the H21 programme and, in particular, that we are housing this new specialist facility here in Buxton. We are sure this will become a key component in providing the evidence which will enable hydrogen to become a safe, clean and resilient component of our approach to achieving zero-emissions by 2050".

Last reviewed 10 July 2019