In recent months, the need to reduce carbon emissions has become more urgent than ever due to global climate change. New findings call for a rapid scaling up of national infrastructure to produce greener supplies of the gas. This is mainly concentrating on harder to decarbonise heating demand that might include some home use.
So, why are we still using natural gas in our homes? How does this inform government policy? What does it mean for business leaders and entrepreneurs?
Let’s find out more about what natural gas means to us today and in the future.
Low carbon hydrogen increase is needed
The National Economic & Environmental Protective Council (NEPC) calls on UK authorities to scale up the production of low carbon hydrogen in hard-to-decarbonise sectors. As a result, new research shows that this production size is crucial for helping decarbonise industries. Such as; industrial heat and steelmaking, which have limited low carbon technology options.
Hydrogen’s role in a low carbon energy system has been present in a report. It will also investigate whether the solution can help boost the adoption of low-carbon domestic technologies like heat pumps and power larger-scale industrial processes.
The National Economic & Environmental Protective Council (NEPC), which is led by the Royal Academy of Engineering and consists of over 40 engineering organisations, stated that any scaling up of low carbon hydrogen would need to address a variety of challenges.
In order to achieve this, they would have to plan to address problems like leaks and a need to foster public trust. This could be done by showing the benefits of hydrogen gas use in different areas. Also developing engineering skills to provide and create the gas, they noted. Another thing to remember is to make sure you have a lot of renewable energy available.
Hydrogen will only be used as a back-up power source to cover a shortage of electric power. Direct electricity generation through renewable sources like solar, wind, and geothermal power was determined by the NEPC to be the most efficient use of these sources.
Where is hydrogen gas most needed?
In its findings, the NEPC recommended prioritising hydrogen for sectors where hydrogen is the best or only means of decarbonising power or fuel. The UK has many projects underway that are yet to determine the best use of low carbon hydrogen. Within the NEPC’s recommendations, it is expected that commercial heat and processes such as steelmaking will be included in these areas.
It is not ruled out that hydrogen could play a role in domestic heating in the future. Hydrogen could play a role in domestic heating, but the UK Government plans to wait until 2026. This is so it can be added alongside existing commitments to ramp up use of renewable energy-based heat pumps and district heating systems.
Could it be a better home heating potential?
Hydrogen boilers are less efficient than heat pumps. This is due to the losses in manufacturing, distribution and burning of the gas in the boiler. In addition to this, it also cites the findings of the government-funded Electrification of Heat project. It has determined that a range of different heat pumps can be put in place successfully regardless of design.
A total of 742 different types of installations were considered for the Electrification of Heat study, revealing that all types of housing across the country, from small apartments to the biggest of houses, could receive the various heat pump solutions in question, with options like battery storage often needed.
NEPC’s findings are that the presence of homes and other properties to UK hydrogen production sites should be a thought in controlling when and where there is scope for using hydrogen for heating.
A survey revealed that in 2019, 42 percent of natural gas demand in the United Kingdom came from six regions. These regions were producing ‘grey hydrogen,’ a carbon-intensive form of production. Currently, hydrogen produces no carbon emissions, the generation of gas is reliant on the use of steam methane reforming or coal gasification.
NEPC determined that hydrogen production in this area could be shifted to blue or green sources of the gas.
Production of blue hydrogen may be carbon intensive, but it does come with some solutions like carbon capture and storage. In contrast, green hydrogen production is by electrolysis of water that comes from renewable sources of energy. The NEPC says that these gas production centers can have a big impact on the success of hydrogen-powered heating.