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Hydrogen builds a head of steam in tackling climate change

A collaborative multi-vector research programme in Wales is demonstrating how the energy networks are tackling the climate emergency and working to deliver a decarbonised future, during a visit from the energy regulator last week.

Ofgem Chairman Martin Cave met with member of our team and local gas network Wales & West Utilities at the Baglan Innovation Centre in Port Talbot, along with leading academics and industry partners at the University of South Wales to understand more about FLEXIS (Flexible Integrated Energy Systems) – a multi-million research and demonstration operation aiming to achieve a resilient, green and affordable energy system in East and West Wales and the Valleys. The project is funded by the Welsh European Funding Office.

Together with Wales & West Utilities, we are playing a key role in this innovative scheme, which is being led by a consortium of Cardiff and Swansea universities, the University of South Wales, Neath Port Talbot Borough Council and Tata Steel, and is working alongside multiple energy industry partners including WPD, Wales & West Utilities and National Grid. Local community partners are key to the FLEXIS multi-vector approach.

During a tour of the University of Wales’ Hydrogen Research and Development Centre, Professor Cave was informed of the potential of hydrogen as a means of decarbonising heat and transport as well as accommodating more renewable energy on the electricity network.

Roger Hey, DSO Systems and Projects Manager at WPD said: “Tackling the global climate emergency is first and foremost an energy challenge. FLEXIS is an example of how a whole systems approach can affect positive change at local levels, which ultimately manifests into a national benefit.

“Network companies like ours are already working with communities and local governments to deliver this change – and we want explore new ways to work more closely.

“We’re playing a leading role in helping reach our Net Zero target, by connecting greater levels of renewable energy while finding innovative solutions to enable low carbon technologies in areas such as transport and heat.”

Steven Edwards, Wales & West Utilities Director of Regulation & Commercial said:

“We’re proud to be part of the whole systems FLEXIS project, developing the skills, capability and technology to deliver green, reliable and affordable energy to homes, businesses and heavy industry in the future.

“Over 80% of people rely on the gas network today, and we’re committed to making sure that the energy system of the future delivers what customers want and need: energy that is affordable, secure and green, while minimising disruption to homes and communities.

“So we’re playing our part in meeting Net Zero – we’ve already connected enough green gas to heat over 120,000 homes, with more in the pipeline. Meanwhile, flexible power stations connected to our network keep the lights on for more than 3m homes, supporting renewable energy.”

Professor Hywel Thomas, FLEXIS Project Lead, explained how industry and communities working together is benefiting the project, and ultimately, the environment. He said: “Real data from the demonstration area’s energy producers and consumers, including the local community, Tata Steel Port Talbot and local industry, is modelled to work out how to integrate, store and supply smart, clean energy. The scope of the demonstration area makes it the largest multi-vector demonstration region in the UK.”

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  • Innovation