The North of England’s gas network, Northern Gas Networks (NGN), has welcomed the findings of today’s Progress Report published by the Committee on Climate Change (28 June 2018).
The public body, which advises the UK and parliament on tackling and preparing for Climate Change, has urged the Government to escalate preparations on a strategic decision around the use of hydrogen for heat, adding that options need to be developed ‘now’ in order to meet the requirements of the 2050 Climate Change Act.
Mark Horsley, Chief Executive Officer for Northern Gas Networks said: “Hydrogen has a crucial role to play in the UK’s future energy mix, providing a secure, safe supply of low-carbon energy for customers, delivered at a reasonable cost.
“We support the findings of today’s Progress Report, and look forward to working closely with national and local government in order to coordinate solutions which can deliver cleaner, greener energy to our customers in the years to come.”
The Progress Report said reliance on natural gas is incompatible with long-term decarbonisation and stressed that a framework which can drive long-term decisions on heat infrastructure should be placed within the scope of the Heat Strategic Options paper scheduled for this summer.
The report states: “Active preparations must continue for strategic decisions in the early 2020s on the role of hydrogen for heat, and the future of the gas grid. We should be developing options now.
“It is essential that the Government continues to develop the evidence base, particularly on safety critical aspects such as the risk of leakages from existing pipework in homes, so that a decision on the future of the gas grid can be made in the early 2020s – it is important that this timeline does not slip, given the scale of changes required by 2050.”
It added that any future decision to decarbonise heat using low carbon hydrogen will require substantial domestic production of hydrogen created through natural gas reforming, with extensive and carbon capture and storage needed to sequester emissions.
The ultimate clean gas, hydrogen is zero carbon at the point of use, producing just heat and water when burned.
Northern Gas Networks, which delivers gas to around 6.8 million customers throughout northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire, is leading industry projects examining hydrogen for use in the gas network.
In 2016, its pioneering H21 Leeds City Gate report used the city of Leeds as a blueprint to prove that conversion of the UK gas networks from natural gas to hydrogen was technically possible and could be delivered at a reasonable cost in order to decarbonise UK heat.
The H21 programme has now expanded into a joint-network project supported by £9 million on Ofgem innovation funding, focused on delivering the essential safety evidence required for a conversion of the gas grid to carry 100% hydrogen.
This work is mirrored by the government’s own £25 million ‘Hy4Heat’ programme, designed to examine hydrogen for use in buildings and create a stimulus for appliance manufacturers.
Hydrogen’s role in the UK’s future energy mix continues to gain government interest, the green gas named as one of three plausible pathways to decarbonisation in 2017’s Clean Growth Strategy.
You can read the full 2018 Committee on Climate Change Progress Report here