NORTHERN Gas Networks (NGN) is launching a project to use a blend of hydrogen and natural gas with the hope this more natural form of energy could be rolled out across Bradford by the end of the decade.

Bradford-born Tim Harwood, Head of Programme Management and H21 project director, said a pioneering 10-month hydrogen energy pilot study will be launched in 670 homes and businesses in the village of Winlaton near Gateshead in April.

"They're the first houses in the UK that are part of a trial on the way to decarbonisation," said Mr Harwood. "Because it's only a 20 per cent blend of hydrogen and gas, they're not going to notice any difference.

"They won't have to change appliances likes boilers, cookers and gas fires. If it was any more than a 20 per cent hydrogen blend then people would have to get hydrogen appliances."

Mr Harwood, who grew up in East Bowling, did say converting to 100 per cent hydrogen would be similar to the more recent switch over from analogue to digital TVs.

Although a full roll-out to hydrogen in Bradford mostly likely will not happen until the end of the decade, Mr Harwood did say it is possible some homes here could be using a 20 per cent hydrogen blend by 2023.

"Bradford has made really good progress in that 80 per cent of its metal pipes have been changed over to plastic. That's going to help us implement it here.

Mr Harwood explained that "when hydrogen comes to the fore" it will be produced in the Humber and Teeside clusters and "pipes would grow out from there".

"It will happen in sectorisation," said Mr Harwood. "We'll take it an estate at a time, installing valves in the system. In places like Bradford it will be similar to the conversion from from coal gas to natural gas in the 1970s.

"To roll out the whole programme to everyone across the country would take 10 to 15 years, as there 23 million homes and 85 per cent have a gas supply. It will take quite a feat to convert all those in one go.

"But we're ahead of the game here in northern England. In Bradford, it would probably take months. But there is potential to have a 20 per cent blend of hydrogen from 2023."

"We would have to get local authorities on board and set up hydrogen injection points."

One of the plans NGN would like to do is build compressed natural gas plant next to Bradford Council's recycling facility on Bowling Back Lane, which could eventually be converted to a hydrogen filling station.

"The good thing about hydrogen is that there are no harmful by-products and would go a long way to achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050."