The UK energy industry has made its most significant move yet in the fight against climate change as 3 energy companies commit to developing a hydrogen production facility by the mid-2020s. Should homeowners be preparing for a future of hydrogen heating?
While the energy and heating industry has been researching the viability of a hydrogen network for several years, there has been little concrete action or legislation on the matter. However, it now seems a hydrogen heating network could be closer to becoming a reality than many previously thought.
Recently a partnership has been established between 3 large energy companies: Drax Group, National Grid Ventures and Equinor. Together they have committed to developing a hydrogen production facility in the UK. This is the first significant step towards making a hydrogen heating network more than a theory or an experiment. The Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage (CCUS) network and a hydrogen production facility should be constructed by the mid-2020s.
The government has amended the original carbon reduction targets set out in the Climate Change Act 2008. We are now working towards a target of zero carbon emissions by 2050 rather than an 80% reduction. This move towards a hydrogen network could be the first of many in our continued efforts decarbonise, especially in light of the increased urgency we’re now facing. Manufacturers such as Worcester Bosch and Viessmann are already developing hydrogen boiler prototypes in anticipation of the change.
Background to Hydrogen Heating
It’s well known that we need to find an alternative to using fossil fuels in our home heating systems if we are to tackle the climate change crisis, but there is less clarity around what will replace our gas and oil boilers. A popular theory in the industry is that we should use the existing existing gas network and boilers, but use hydrogen rather than natural gas as our fuel.
Unlike natural gas, hydrogen does not produce carbon emissions when burned. By adding hydrogen into the natural gas network we may be able to reduce our carbon footprint gradually and, one day, stop using natural gas altogether. Although burning hydrogen does not produce carbon, the challenge for the energy industry is that the process of producing hydrogen does create carbon. To be able to produce enough hydrogen to heat 80% of UK homes without adding more carbon to the atmosphere, we need large-scale hydrogen production facilities with a Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage (CCUS) network.
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