Going Dutch - A visit to Lochem, Netherlands

30 Oct 2023
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Lorna Archer - H100 Fife Downstream Project Manager

Lorna Archer is a Project Manager working on our H100 Fife project. H100 Fife is the first ever green hydrogen heating trial, where up to 300 homes in Fife will have their natural gas replaced with hydrogen gas.

It's an amazing project which will help provide evidence for decarbonising heating with hydrogen. To get some inspiration, Lorna and her team visited Lochem in the Netherlands to find out more about an ongoing hydrogen heating trial involving 10 homes.

Have you ever wondered what cooks faster, natural gas or hydrogen? On our trip to Lochem, Netherlands, in August we found out the answer.

Using an identical experimental set up with a hydrogen burner and a natural gas burner, we witnessed 300ml of water coming to the boil. The result … a draw! The water reached boiling point at the same time on each burner. This is a great result when you consider the customer experience of changing from natural gas to hydrogen.

We saw the experiment at Kiwa’s Apeldoorn office on their Hydrogen Experience Table. Kiwa is a testing specialist that’s working with Dutch gas network company Alliander to deliver a hydrogen heating trial in Lochem.

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Five people gathered around a table with lots of pipes and equipment on it

The Hydrogen Experience Table in Apeldoorn

Reflecting on the various demonstrations we saw, I’d say it’s incredibly beneficial to take a break from the office to see how hydrogen behaves in reality. It helps to demystify what is really just another gas that has applications in heat, power, transport and energy storage.

After the testing table, we were invited into Kiwa’s Hydrogen House that’s used for hydrogen demonstration and training. As with the houses heated by hydrogen in Lochem, Baxi’s hydrogen boiler was being used.

With Baxi providing 50% of the boiler supply for H100 Fife, this was a valuable opportunity for us to examine the boilers while they were up and running. It has helped provide us with lessons learned from Alliander and Kiwa which we can take forwards when we go into the homes of our H100 Fife customers.

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Two people talking indoors in front of three boilers in a demonstration home.

Me getting a tour of Kiwa's hydrogen home

Next, we were off to speak to the hydrogen customers of Lochem. Kind enough to let us into his home was Mr. Kruijff. I asked him if he was given the chance to go back to natural gas would he do it, he responded with: “Absolutely not, I hope I can stay with hydrogen forever." It was clear speaking to Mr. Kruijff that he, along with his neighbours on the street, was eager to move towards a greener future and proud to play an active role in the energy transition.

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A group of people standing in front of a detached home

Me with SGN colleagues and Mr Kruijff (wearing red), out side his home

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The H100 Fife project is built to change the gas that customers use in the home and not change the way in which they use it.

Lorna Archer

Project Manager

We ended the trip with a visit to a tube trailer site used to store the hydrogen to be distributed into the Lochem network. Interestingly, Alliander repurposed the existing PE/PVC pipe with hydrogen and laid a new parallel network for rerouting the natural gas. This is the reverse approach of H100 Fife, where we’re installing a new network for hydrogen.

With 91% of the Netherlands connected to the gas grid and a drive for maximum CO­2 reduction with minimal investment, it’s easy to draw parallels between there and the UK. We have similar visions for utilising existing infrastructure to repurpose the gas grid backbone for hydrogen.

One of the key takeaways for me was the view of the Lochem customers and Alliander that hydrogen is just another gas. This is a view we share at SGN, where the H100 Fife project is built to change the gas that customers use in the home and not change the way in which they use it.