We’re working towards transitioning our network to carry hydrogen instead of natural gas, to help us achieve the target of net zero by 2050.
Converting pipelines to hydrogen service requires an enhanced understanding of our pipeline properties and condition, which in some cases needs data not currently captured under existing inspection regimes and tools.
Through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) process, we’re exploring the opportunities to improve pipeline assessment and the available data, to help accelerate the adoption of hydrogen as a net zero energy source.
We conducted a desktop study as part of the Discovery phase to determine the feasibility of conducting hydrogen pipeline assessments, as well as reviewing all possible methods of gathering the required data. Through this phase we found that we could gather additional pipeline data using existing inspection techniques, such as In-Line Inspection (ILI) tools, but a novel data management system could accelerate key pipeline assessments.
The initial study was followed by an Alpha phase project focused on the identification of the required datasets and the development of a suitable assessment platform.
This involved an in-depth records search of all currently available data, including the extraction of paper records from archives. A comprehensive engineering review was completed for a trial pipeline section. This has allowed us to identify the key records required for future assessment.
We’ve created a data management system tailored to hydrogen conversion assessments and the outputs from the engineering review have been fed into this system to demonstrate its functionality.
A selection of pipeline sections have been used as a trial for a hydrogen readiness rating tool. This integrates with the data management system and allows us to carry out a high-level assessment of pipeline readiness.
A supporting tool has also been developed to conduct more in-depth assessments to support with decision making regarding any repair or remediation required to ensure hydrogen readiness of certain pipelines.
The project has helped us establish the baseline data level required to support a hydrogen transition and has given us a greater understanding of the current data gaps that need addressing as part of our preparation activities.