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DNV carrying out hydrogen blending feasibility study to decarbonize gas system in British Columbia

DNV, the independent energy expert and assurance provider, is executing hydrogen blending feasibility studies for Enbridge and FortisBC Energy. The two individual studies will determine the percentage of hydrogen that can be safely transported through existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure, including Enbridge’s transmission system and FortisBC’s distribution system, both located in British Columbia, Canada.

These studies, which are the largest blending studies undertaken in North America, will be used to develop the codes and standards required to safely transport hydrogen as the first step in forming a sustainable commercial hydrogen market.

The project is part of the Province of British Columbia’s work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decarbonizing FortisBC's and Enbridge’s natural gas systems while maintaining safety, reliability, and affordability. Individual studies will be undertaken for both sets of assets, recognizing the unique components and systems in place.

Collectively, the studies will build a knowledge base to establish the safety, technical, and economic requirements needed to identify and introduce the best and safest hydrogen concentration levels for the system. The entire gas supply value chain will be examined, from hydrogen injection points to end-user delivery points on the pipeline systems.

When injected into the natural gas grid or distributed into new or converted infrastructure, hydrogen can be a renewable and low-carbon fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a low carbon-energy economy. These studies are the next phase in a multi-year development effort as part of FortisBC and Enbridge’s long-term strategy to establish and maintain leadership in the low-carbon and green energy sector.

DNV is actively contributing to the advancement of clean hydrogen adoption through several initiatives:

  • Joint Industry Projects (JIPs): DNV is leading five JIPs that specifically target hydrogen. These collaborative efforts involve industry stakeholders and aim to drive innovation and best practices in hydrogen-related activities.

  • Verification procedure for low-carbon hydrogen claims: DNV has recently introduced DNV-SE-0654 to verify claims related to the production and distribution of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia. This ensures transparency and credibility in the industry.

  • Guidance for hydrogen transportation in pipelines: DNV has developed guidelines for the safe and efficient transportation of hydrogen through pipelines to address technical, safety, and regulatory aspects, as well as the DNV-SE-0657 service specification for the re-qualification of pipeline systems for transport of hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

These activities play a crucial role in shaping the future of hydrogen by promoting safety, infrastructure development, decarbonization, and policy support.



Here is a study which looks at options for both the electricity grid and the gas pipe network as we decarbonise:

' The flexible operation of the gas network, as well as the lower cost of gas storage and transport compared to alternative options such as electricity and heat networks, make it a reliable option for supplying heat in many regions. For instance, in the UK, on cold winter days, daily gas demand can be around 4.7 TWh, more than five times the energy delivered by the electricity grid on an average winter day'


' In the complete electrification scenario (HP scenario), all the heating demand supplied by fossil fuels in the present system will be transferred to the electricity grid. As a result, the peak electricity demand increases from 49 GW in the base year to around 133 GW, and a significant expansion and reinforcement of the electricity grid (a nearly 158% increase of installed capacity) will be required to securely supply the electricity demand. '

The gas grid represents one heck of a stranded asset to write off.

Their conversion scenarion focusses on hydrogen boilers, which are not a very efficient way of doing things, and completely omit the possibility of using fuel cells in homes and commercial buildings, which would be way, way more efficient, for reasons which are entirely obscure to me.



Don't forget that modern electric heating (heat pumps, mostly) is around 4x more efficient than natural gas, so you don't need as much. It's way more efficient to convert NG to electricity and let homeowners use that for heat and hot water than it is for them to use NG directly.

As for grid expansion, it's inevitable, and it's been going on since the beginnings of electrification. Climate change doesn't help either, since more people need air conditioning (in which case they already have a heat pump).


Hi Bernard

We are going to get there, no doubt about that. But the figures are interesting.

The study I have linked takes account of the efficiencies of heat pumps. My gripe is that it assumes inefficient hydrogen boilers, when fuel cells are way more efficient, and much more efficient than present practice of burning NG centrally, throwing much of the energy away through cooling towers, then transmitting it.

They are 90% plus efficient for electrical plus thermal energy, and would turn out very different figures to those presented for different mixes of grid.


I read Hawaii is allowed to mix 10% hydrogen in their natural gas pipelines just a point of note. Small solid oxide fuel cells can provide electricity, heat and cooling for many homes and buildings efficiently. They can use natural gas directly, no reforming required.


By the way we can make the methane to fill the pipelines easily using the sequestered carbon from the fossil fuel power plants along with the renewable hydrogen from solar and wind electricity, not that difficult actually.


Saxony Anhalt and Avacon in Germany have completed their trials of up to 20% hydrogen in the existing NG grid, some time ago:

' The addition of hydrogen to an existing gas distribution network in Saxony-Anhalt, initiated as part of a joint project between Avacon and the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (DVGW), has been successfully completed. Over a period of two heating seasons, up to 20 % hydrogen was gradually added to the natural gas. The appliance settings of the 350 or so household appliances connected were not changed. '

Opponents of hydrogen have enormously exagerated the difficulties of using the existing grid to transport hydrogen, claiming that engineering issues which everything have are show stoppers, as they really do not want to believe it possible.

When I was young in the 1950's the old town gas, aka coal gas, had up to 50% hydrogen in it by volume, which even the technology of the time successfully transported , as they had done for many decades previously.


There was plenty of hydrogen in the gas networks here!:

' The UK’s gas industry was born in 1812. Britain was still at war with Napoleon when Frederick Winsor created the first company in the world to build a public gas works and distribute gas to customers through a network of underground pipes. This business opened up the markets for gas; something that would transform the everyday life of millions of people, as they got their first taste of reliable light, heat and energy.

Gas was used to light London’s streets and the original gas-powered lamp posts still exist dotted around St James in London. By 1827, London’s network provided gas to almost 70,000 streetlights.'

No doubt not to modern safety standards, save perhaps for Boeing.


Davemart, how does this address one of the main issues with NG: namely the up-to 25% loss in the distribution network. Adding H2, which has even worse greenhouse impact doesn't seem like the best idea. Not at all.
Oil companies love this type of solution, because it means that they get a shot at locking-in customers for another decade. It's the E15 of home heating: it's arguably slightly less bad (maybe), but it actually propagates the core problem to the next generations.



I do wish you would say where you get your figures from!

Here is what I turned up when I googled:
' Uk losses in natural gas distribution network'

' This paper studies leakage from the UK natural gas distribution system. British Gas maintains that the leakage rate is around 1% of supply. This paper estimates a Low, Medium and High Case leakage rate of 1.9%, 5.3% and 10.8% respectively. The authors are confident that the leakage rate is above 1.9% and consider it more likely that the leakage rate is between the Medium and High Case. This investigation has been very cautious in that only leakage from the low pressure, medium pressure and service pipelines has been calculated. No estimates of leakage from the broader supply system have been included because of lack of verifiable information. The implications of these leakage rates for energy policy are considered.'

Which is pretty bad, likely because not much attention has been paid to the issue, but way under the unsubstanatiated figure you quote, or rather, simply claim.

And losses from the electric grid are far from trivial:

' Recent research by Citizens Advice suggests that about 1.7% of the electricity transferred over the transmission network is lost, and a further 5-8% is lost over the distribution networks.'

Yeah, we are going to have to reduce losses. But just presenting it as a show stopper, and without any figures or comparisons to alternatives......


Davemart, the estimates I found were 5.3 to 10.8 percent leakage in main distribution lines, another 5-10% in local (last mile) distribution, similar amounts in the home (depending on the age of pipes and appliances), and double-digit at production sites. You can't just isolate one small part, which the industry naturally tries to do. The four numbers are very similar, so it's easy to create "accidental confusion" by quoting a single number.

Your reference says the same thing: "No estimates of leakage from the broader supply system have been included because of lack of verifiable information." In other words: we are giving you one number, but that's not the total amount. We'll leave it to others to do the maths.

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