Safety in homes

Safety is at the heart of everything we do. The UK’s gas sector has been keeping millions of households safe and warm for decades. Today, 22 million homes in the UK use natural gas safely because of certain measures the gas industry takes. The same will happen with hydrogen.

Every form of energy including natural gas and electricity has its own specific risks which are identified and managed. The gas industry makes gas networks safe by design, has an excellent safety record and are experts in managing the risks associated with natural gas. We’ll apply the same safety principles, priorities and safety measures – including any new measures if needed - to hydrogen gas to ensure a safe network.

An important part of this is engaging with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Great Britain’s national independent regulator for workplace health and safety, as part of the transition from natural gas to hydrogen.

Here are some of the safety measures* we’re planning to use for our world-first green hydrogen heating trial – H100 Fife:

  • Excess flow valves will be installed in every home using hydrogen. These are designed to limit the flow of gas below the amount needed to cause a dangerous build-up.  
  • Odour will be added to the hydrogen, so that it has the same familiar smell of natural gas.
  • Ventilation is important for a healthy home and allows potential small leaks to disperse safely. We may need to add ventilation to homes in the H100 Fife trial.
  • Hydrogen meter boxes will be installed outside.
  • Competent Gas Safe Registered engineers trained specifically for hydrogen locally at Fife College will inspect homes regularly throughout the course of the project.

* Measures will be identified during home surveys and will vary by property.


Demonstrating our commitment to safety

Safety is fundamental. Before H100 Fife can go ahead, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will need to be satisfied that the trial will be run safely.

To demonstrate this, the project is developing a Safety Dossier, supported by evidence, that sets out how H100 Fife will operate safely. The Safety Dossier is made of three ‘cases for safety’ covering Production & Storage, Distribution and End Use.

We are in the process of submitting our Safety Dossier to the HSE and we expect this to be complete in the first half of 2024. HSE will evaluate the evidence in the dossier to ensure H100 Fife can progress safely, mirroring the usual process for natural gas.

If the HSE is satisfied that the evidence demonstrates that SGN can run the trial safely, a Letter of Assistance will be issued to SGN, Ofgem and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero setting out the conclusions of the assessment. All parties will need to consider the conclusions of HSE’s assessment before the trial goes ahead.


No carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas which is produced when fossil fuels don’t burn properly. You can’t see it, smell it, hear it or taste it – that’s why it’s known as the ‘silent killer’. For help and advice on CO safety, click here.

One great benefit of hydrogen is that it doesn’t produce any CO at all, so it eliminates the risk of CO poisoning from appliances which causes illness and sometimes even death in the UK every year.


Reducing NOx emissions

We’re all increasingly concerned about breathing in gases like nitrogen oxides (NOx) which can be harmful to our health. NOx is formed when you burn any fuel and sources include cars, buses, planes, trains and gas boilers. The good news is that hydrogen boilers, developed by leading manufacturers, are showing NOx levels of less than half that of natural gas. More work is planned to assess NOx for other hydrogen appliances, and we’ll continue to monitor the outcome.