One of Britain’s biggest gas networks has called on the Government to allow it to mix 200 times more hydrogen into gas that is pumped into homes across the country, a move that it says would reduce carbon emissions by six million tonnes a year.
Cadent said that the carbon emissions for household boilers and cookers could be slashed significantly if it were allowed to mix larger amounts of hydrogen into the grid.
In a report released in conjunction with the Energy Networks Association, Cadent said that household appliances can deal with 20% of the gas in a grid being hydrogen, as opposed to traditional methane.
By investing in carbon-neutral hydrogen, it would save households from having to replace hundreds of thousands of boilers across the country.
It would help set Britain on course to be carbon neutral by the middle of the century, Cadent said.
“If the Government is serious about hydrogen, then it needs to ensure that is also thinking about how we deliver it,” said Chris Train at the Energy Networks Association.
“That’s where Britain’s world-leading gas networks come in. This report clearly demonstrates we’ve got the know-how and the expertise to start safely blending large quantities of hydrogen into Britain’s gas grid.”
Experts have been torn in the past on how much hydrogen can be safely blended into existing gas networks.
Cadent and other gas networks are currently only allowed to have 0.1% hydrogen in its supply.
But the carbon savings that Cadent promises also depends on how the hydrogen is made.
Currently most of the world’s hydrogen is produced by transforming methane through a process known as steam methane reformation (SMR).
This method is not carbon neutral as the process releases carbon dioxide from the methane molecule. Cadent proposes capturing the carbon at the production site and storing it to avoid it getting into the atmosphere.
But it is also possible to split water molecules into their component parts – hydrogen and oxygen – a process which releases oxygen into the air at the point of production.
When the hydrogen molecule is later burnt it reacts with oxygen in the air to form water again.
“We have assumed a system that includes injection from multiple hydrogen production plants of varying size and type (including green hydrogen from renewables and blue hydrogen from SMR processes with carbon capture and storage),” the report reads.
But the industry will need clear Government guidance to encourage investment, Cadent said.
“The report concludes that setting a target date for new large-scale hydrogen production plants to connect to the gas network will help stimulate demand for hydrogen production, pump-priming investment in a hydrogen economy and keeping Britain on course to build the world’s first zero-carbon gas grid.”
Jacob Young MP, chair for the all-party group on hydrogen, said: “Hydrogen has the potential to play a major role in the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19, and offers a compelling pathway towards supporting the decarbonisation of heating, transport and industrial processes.”