Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

Climate crisis: Mix 200 times more hydrogen into household gas to cut carbon emissions, govt told

The government should allow 200 times more hydrogen to be mixed into household gas to reduce carbon emissions, the UK’s largest gas distribution networks has said.

Cadent says the move would see carbon emissions, produced from items including household boilers and cookers, cut by six million tonnes a year.

In the joint report with the Energy Networks Association, Cadent said household appliances were able to operate with 20% of the gas in a grid being hydrogen, rather than the traditionally used methane.

The company said the plan could help the UK become carbon neutral by 2050, and would save households from having to replace appliances.

Chris Train, leading the Gas Goes Green initiative at the Energy Networks Association, said: “If the government is serious about hydrogen, then it needs to ensure that is also thinking about how we deliver it.

“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 previously been conflicted on how much hydrogen can be blended into the existing gas networks safely, with Cadent and other networks currently only allowing use of 0.1%.

However, the carbon savings would depend on how the hydrogen is made.

Most of the hydrogen in the world is currently produced using methane and transforming it through a process called steam methane reformation – which is not carbon neutral as it produces carbon dioxide.

Cadent suggests capturing the carbon dioxide and then storing it to prevent it from entering the atmosphere.

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It says another possibility to make the process environmentally friendly would involve splitting water molecules into their individual components – hydrogen and oxygen – which would release oxygen into the air.

When the hydrogen molecule is later burned, it will react with oxygen in the air, forming water again.

Jacob Young MP, chair of 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.”

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