A hydrogen pilot will soon be launched in Lochem, Gelderland. This is the first time that hydrogen has been brought into existing, occupied homes via the natural gas network.
This is one of the reasons why the grid manager Liander is training technicians to work with hydrogen in a safe and professional manner.
Last month, the first gas engineers from the network operator Liander passed their exams to be able to work with hydrogen. This is an important step towards a pilot that will soon be launched in Lochem. There, starting in October, some of the homes in the Berkeloord district will be heated with hydrogen. The education and examination were provided by Kiwa, which specializes in testing, inspection, certification and training.
Hydrogen can play an important role in the energy transition. In the Climate Agreement, it was agreed that seven million homes and one million buildings would be off natural gas by 2050. Hydrogen is one of the alternatives to natural gas for heating buildings and homes. Especially for homes that are difficult to insulate and for which electric heat pumps offer no solution, hydrogen is the alternative. This also applies to neighbourhoods where no heat network can be constructed. An additional advantage is that it is easy to transport hydrogen to homes via the existing gas pipes that are already in the ground.
Liander’s engineers work on the maintenance of the grid’s electricity and gas networks every day. Now that more and more parties are doing pilots to investigate how hydrogen can be used as an alternative energy carrier, the technicians must also be prepared for this. In Apeldoorn last year, Alliander – Liander’s parent company – opened the Hydrogen House together with Kiwa. This is a demonstration and training location where technicians from network operators and installers are trained to work with hydrogen. Recently, 25 Liander technicians followed the training course. The first group has now passed their exams. The other participants will complete their training in the coming weeks.
Elbert Huijzer, hydrogen expert at Liander: “This is a new step for our people and an important one for the energy transition. Our energy landscape is becoming more diverse. There will be more and different energy sources in the energy system. That requires a lot of people, including our own technicians. They are now experiencing the change in the energy system themselves.”
Working with hydrogen initially looks a lot like the work that the mechanics perform on the natural gas grid every day. Despite the fact that the network consists of the same components, working with hydrogen requires different and additional actions. Working safely is the most important part of this training, just as it is when working on the gas and electricity grid.
In addition to safety and working on the pipes, the participants are also trained to be able to carry out work with hydrogen in stressful situations. Engineers must then be able to rely blindly on their knowledge.
A pilot project is starting in Lochem in October with eleven homes that are switching from natural gas to hydrogen. It is the first time in the Netherlands that existing, occupied homes are being heated with hydrogen that is brought into the homes via the existing natural gas network.
In the homes themselves the existing central heating boiler is being replaced by one that is suitable for hydrogen. The pilot, which will last three years, must demonstrate that hydrogen is a fully-fledged alternative for some of the homes that are still heated with natural gas. In addition, the pilot is intended to gain more knowledge about the technology and the maintenance of the installations and pipelines.