BEIS pipes £25m into hydrogen demo for heating
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has revealed plans to pipe £25 million into a new programme exploring the use of hydrogen for heating.
25th April 2017 by Networks
The aims of the demonstration project include defining a hydrogen quality standard and developing and trialling hydrogen fuelled appliances for homes and businesses.
The department has launched a £5 million tender to find a contractor to manage the programme, which will run from 2017 to 2020.
The tender notice states that the programme will “serve to support and inform future policy appraisal in government and to inform the development of policies and measures to meet UK carbon budgets.”
The announcement follows the publication of report commissioned by BEIS, which found that the development of domestic hydrogen appliances needs a “strong policy direction” from government.
Four out of five households in Britain still rely on natural gas to keep warm and cook dinner, and the burning of fossil fuels for heating accounted for 17 per cent of the UK’s emissions in 2015, according to the Committee on Climate Change.
The climate watchdog warned last year that the country could not continue to rely on the power sector to meet emissions reduction targets, and that progress on heating has “stalled” due a gap in policy.
Among other things, it urged the government to begin large-scale pilots looking at the potential for hydrogen to provide low-carbon heating. This, it hoped, would enable ministers to decide on a long-term strategy for heating by the middle of the next decade.
The combustion of hydrogen produces just heat and water, meaning the gas has zero carbon emissions at the point of use. However, concerns have been raised over how to source sufficent quantities in a way which is both low-carbon and cost-effective.
Renewables can be used to create hydrogen by passing the electricity they generate through water but the process – known as electrolysis – is energy intensive – with a ’round-trip’ efficiency of just 30 to 40 per cent according to the US-based Energy Storage Association. This can also make it expensive to produce.
Sourcing large voumes of hydrogen in this way would require lots of additional generation and a 2016 report by KPMG concluded that electrolysis could be not be used to produce the fuel in sufficient quantities to enable the conversion of the UK’s gas grids any time soon.
Low-carbon hydrogen can also be produced from methane with the aid of carbon, capture and storage (CCS) but there are similarly concerns over the cost of CCS and progress to develop the technology has slowed to a crawl after the government cancelled a commercialisation competition towards the end of 2015.
A project led by Northern Gas Networks nevertheless concluded that converting the UK’s gas grid to run on hydrogen would be “technically possible and economically viable” and that doing so would reduce emissions from heating by at least 73 per cent.
As the first step towards a nationwide rollout, the final report outlined plans to convert gas grids in Leed to run on hydrogen supplied by CCS-enabled steam methane reformers in the Teesside area.
Login on register to comment
Cadent backs launch of major bio-CNG HGV refuelling station
Gas network’s £250,000 infrastructure investment ensures supplies to existing connected customers have not been impacted
Editor’s blog: The biggest tests of resilience are yet to come
Network content director Jane Gray reflects on the industry's coronavirus response to date and the challenges still to come.
From the front line: Chris Garside and Andy Simcoe, Northern Gas Networks
Key workers across the power and gas networks are playing a critical role in the national response to Coronavirus. Network has committed to profiling their stories.
Related supplier content
Load patterns and lockdown: how Covid-19 is impacting electricity networks
Insights into dynamics on the low voltage network as the outbreak unfolds
How E.ON. is helping the City of London become a zero emissions city
Discover Citigen. Deep in the heart of our bustling capital
The Innovation Factor: Managing the transition to smart communication technologies in the electricity distribution sector white paper
The transition from legacy communications systems to new technologies can seem daunting for organisations in the electricity sector. But with market dynamics changing rapidly