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BEIS commissions consortium to develop hydrogen gas installation standards and training

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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has commissioned a consortium led by Energy & Utility Skills and the Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers (IGEM) to develop domestic and non-domestic hydrogen gas installation standards, competence frameworks, and training specifications.

The work will be aided by the British Standards Institution’s (BSI) Publicly Available Specification (PAS) standards, which are being developed to codify guidance and specifications for ancillary hydrogen gas devices and components. These standards will allow for occupied 100% hydrogen heating trials, such as the neighbourhood and village trials outlined in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan. The evidence generated by these trials will allow strategic decisions on the role of hydrogen for heat in 2026, including whether to proceed with a hydrogen-heated town. The project is supported by the BEIS Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).

Energy & Utility Skills is collaborating with IGEM to create installation standards and training specifications that will allow for the safe repurposing of existing natural gas systems for use with 100 percent hydrogen in domestic and non-domestic premises.

IGEM will evaluate hydrogen research and the scientific evidence base in order to update the IGEM/H/1 Hydrogen Reference Standard and develop two new Hydrogen Enabling Standards for domestic and non-domestic scenarios. Energy & Utility Skills will finalize and implement the Hydrogen Competency Framework by creating an updated and expanded Training Specification that is aligned with IGEM’s new and updated standards. The project is scheduled to be completed in September 2023.

Energy & Utility Skills and IGEM’s development of training and assessment requirements will help ensure that the UK has competent trained engineers to directly support the Government’s goal of assisting industry in delivering trials of 100 percent hydrogen heating. According to the UK Hydrogen Strategy, BEIS will collaborate with industry to ensure that the right skills are available at the right time to support the growth of the hydrogen sector, maximizing direct and indirect UK job opportunities.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “As we work towards making the UK a world-leading hydrogen economy, it is important we have the right framework in place, and the skilled workforce to make it thrive.

“This programme, backed by over £2 million in funding from the UK Government, will support the development of hydrogen skills and standards in the UK, paving the way for new green job opportunities across the country.”

Phil Beach CBE, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills, said: “BEIS first commissioned Energy & Utility Skills in 2020 to develop and deliver a Hydrogen Competency Framework as part of the Hy4Heat programme. This new contract reflects both the quality of the work we have delivered in partnership with IGEM and the importance of driving forward this skills initiative as part of the Green Industrial Revolution. The hydrogen training and assessment framework is not only robust, but also designed by, and fully endorsed by, the gas industry itself.”

Oliver Lancaster, Chief Executive of IGEM, added: “The Institution has been at the heart of energy transitions, with lessons learned through our history and the conversion from towns gas to natural gas now being applied in the challenging transition to decarbonise our future and the conversion to green gas. IGEM is passionate about engineering a sustainable gas future and is delighted to collaborate once again with Energy & Utility Skills as a strategic partner in delivering the essential skills, knowledge, competence and standards for occupied hydrogen trials. This ground-breaking work will help to ensure a safe, secure and just transition to a low carbon net zero energy system.”

The need for appropriately trained and competent gas engineers is well understood by industry, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and the government. That requirement is absolute and critical for any potential transition to hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas. As required by law, the engineers who install and maintain the millions of natural gas appliances in use are all skilled, competent, and registered with the Gas Safe Register. The processes that govern this system are well-established and robust, and they have contributed to high levels of consumer confidence in using gas in their homes. It is critical to maintain that confidence as the gas industry takes the first steps toward a new era of hydrogen-powered appliances.

Anela Dokso

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