We all need to be involved in the process of moving toward a decarbonized economy. At the same time, the advancing global energy transition faces many challenges to ensure a sustainable, reliable and affordable energy supply. For this reason gas will continue to play and important role in the future energy system. Emphasis on decarbonizing the existing gas infrastructure will inevitably lead to greater penetration of greener fuels such as renewable energy produced hydrogen. In this regard, the conversion of existing valuable gas grids to hydrogen is increasingly getting into focus for pipeline operators.
This paper illustrates a comprehensive integrity management approach supporting pipeline operators with the conversion of their existing natural gas grids and operations for transporting hydrogen. This approach is founded on the extensive research that has already been completed on issues such as material susceptibility to hydrogen induced embrittlement or accelerated fatigue cracking, and the technologies that are already available to map material properties, geometry and deformation features where stress levels are elevated, and features that may be starting points for fatigue cracks. It takes us through:
- Confirming system suitability and any modifications required with a desktop evaluation followed by the physical internal and external inspections and testing required to demonstrate that a particular system can safely be converted to hydrogen transport.
- Baseline inspections and checks needed to identify possible future changes that would be a concern.
- The changes or additions to current integrity management (and potentially operating) practices and knowledge needed to monitor the potential new threats. Including system monitoring, external surveys, and internal inspection in 100% hydrogen.
With this structured holistic approach we believe that it is now feasible to “stop talking and start doing” and start managing the introduction of hydrogen into the worlds network of gas pipelines.