New report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology concludes there is 'no reason' why hydrogen can't safely be used in the UK gas grid
There is "no reason" why hydrogen can't be used instead of natural gas to be used for heating and cooking in people's homes, engineering experts have concluded.
Experts from five engineering institutions were tasked by the government to assess the potential risks of using hydrogen in homes and businesses around the country as a low-carbon alternative to gas.
In the resulting report released today by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the experts concluded that while upgrades to existing infrastructure such as pipes and boilers would be required, hydrogen could be used instead of natural gas to make a "significant contribution" to the UK's 2050 decarbonisation target.
Natural gas use is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions for the UK; around 85 per cent of UK homes use gas for heating and cooking.
A large chunk of those emissions could be eradicated if hydrogen replaced natural gas in the UK grid, with the experts suggesting today such a move could be completed safely.
"We are now in a position to seriously consider the viability of using hydrogen in the UK's gas grid for use by homes and businesses which could significantly contribute to the decarbonisation of the UK's energy sector," said lead author Dr Robert Sansom, of the IET.
But he warned the UK would need to prepare a detailed transition programme, backed by a stable funding regime, to ensure a smooth transfer. The hydrogen would also likely be produced using natural gas, which would also require carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCuS) infrastructure being built out.
"It is ambitious," Dr Sansom admitted. "To make a significant contribution to meeting the UK's 2050 carbon reduction target the transition to hydrogen would need to be implemented over the next 30 years. This may seem a long time but in terms of the infrastructure required and millions of homes and businesses affected it is relatively short. Action is required now and we hope that our findings and subsequent recommendations can make a significant contribution to advancing the decarbonisation of the UK."
In related news, another report on the potential of hydrogen to speed decarbonisation was released today by the International Energy Agency (IEA). It concluded that hydrogen could play a crucial role in decarbonising a range of sectors including long-haul transport, chemicals, and iron and steel, where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce emissions.
But it points out that producing low-carbon hydrogen is still costly, and infrastructure for distributing and burning the fuel is limited. Policy makers must ensure the market is able to address these issues if low-carbon hydrogen is to flourish, the IEA advised.
Source: Business Green