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A groundbreaking project to develop the use of hydrogen to heat homes and businesses has won a prestigious global award.

H21 won the 2020 Pipeline Industries Guild Award for best onshore pipeline project.

A collaborative gas network programme led by Northern Gas Networks, H21 has helped to galvanise the UK’s development and understanding of hydrogen as a green fuel of the future.

The project, which began as a desktop study in 2015 to examine the feasibility of converting the gas network of the city of Leeds to hydrogen, has gone on to become a major UK-wide programme, with national and international partners.

The H21 project is now about to enter an exciting phase of real-world hydrogen demonstration, at a bespoke testing facility in Spadeadam, Cumbria. A test site on a disused part of the existing gas network, at South Bank, Redcar, has also been identified – subject to planning approval.

These trials will provide crucial additional evidence to inform Government policy decisions about investment in the UK’s nascent hydrogen economy.

Alongside these trials, new consumer research from Leeds Beckett University carried out as part of H21, has being gauging public reaction to a move to widespread use of hydrogen for heating homes and businesses.

The Pipeline Industries Guild was formed in 1957 and is the only worldwide association to represent the needs of the pipeline industry, regardless of engineering discipline. Members include transporters of gas, water and chemicals. The Guild’s annual awards recognise projects which move the industry forward through use of technology, environmental protection, safety, or cost reduction.

Tim Harwood, H21 Programme Director at Northern Gas Networks said: “We are very proud to win this award, especially at a time when hydrogen is being recognised internationally as means of achieving green-minded economic recovery.

“H21 continues to provide crucial evidence on all aspects of hydrogen conversion, such as the economic and environmental benefits, the technical feasibility of converting existing gas networks to hydrogen, the safety and performance aspects of hydrogen, and public perceptions.

“We’d like to share this award with our many partner organisations who are working on H21 here in the UK and abroad.”

Sean Greenwood, who chaired the judging panel for the Guild’s onshore pipeline award said: “The panel judging the awards this year felt that the H21 project is one of the biggest that will hit the UK gas distribution system. It was a worthy winner of the Pipeline Concept award for an up and coming project that will have a major impact on the pipeline industry in the near future.”