Ed Syson, chief safety and strategy officer at Cadent, gives his reaction to the Committee on Climate Change's (CCC) recommendations to move beyond an 80 per cent target and deliver net zero emissions by 2050.
Today (Thursday 2 May) the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published its long awaited ‘Net Zero - The UK's contribution to stopping global warming' report. I believe its release, just days after the Extinction Rebellion protests and Labour's call to declare a ‘Climate Emergency', marks a really important step towards the low, or even zero, carbon economy that we need to build in the UK.
We welcome the contribution made by the CCC and this report in challenging government, policy makers and industry to strive towards a net-zero economy. Their recommendations are wide ranging and will affect all parts of the UK economy and our daily lives from the way we travel to what we eat.
As with any such far-reaching report, there are many recommendations we will agree with and some we will disagree with. We are pleased to see the report recommending the development of a ‘hydrogen economy' which will allow gas to play a far larger and wider role in providing energy for industry, transportation and, obviously, heating.
As a network which serves over 11 million customers, we are mindful that decarbonisation is a challenge of vital importance to us all, but it is one which needs to be tackled in a way that is plausible, sensible and affordable for all, particularly those already struggling under the burden of fuel poverty.
Our gas network is a hugely valuable asset which can support and deliver the ambitions of a cleaner, greener society as part of a whole-systems approach to ensure affordable and reliable low-carbon energy. It is a network that is already supporting the delivery of low carbon gases for heat, power and increasingly for transport. As chief safety and strategy officer, my role is to ensure that our network is fit for the future - helping low-carbon gas producers connect to the grid and trialling new ways of helping to decarbonise.
I don't exaggerate when I say that the low and zero-carbon gas projects Cadent is developing and delivering right now, in 2019, are world-leading. Our HyDeploy and HyNet projects are already laying the foundations for the delivery of the UK's hydrogen economy, and we continue to invest in supporting other means to decarbonise the gas grid of today.
At Keele University in Staffordshire, we have now secured Health and Safety Executive approval to begin Phase 2 of our hydrogen blending HyDeploy project. That means, from this summer, homes in Keele will be fed with a blend of up to 20 per cent hydrogen injected into the existing natural gas networks. Adopted at scale across the UK, this hydrogen blending has the potential to reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 2.5 million cars of our network.
Blending is an important stepping stone, but we know 20 per cent isn't enough. That's why in the North West we are working alongside partners to develop the HyNet project. This project could see the UK's first Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) facility based in the Merseyside area and we have welcomed the recognition of the region's suitability in the recent BEIS Select Committee's Report of CCUS. The hydrogen generated and transported by HyNet will be used to directly decarbonise industry and to power homes and vehicles across the North West in a reliable and affordable way.
That is a game changer.
Much will be said about the CCC's report in the coming days and weeks and as I've said we don't necessarily align with them on all of their recommendations. However, today is about the vision. We can work on the details in the months and years ahead. What we needed was a vision for a low, and even zero, carbon UK. A vision not for us, but for our children and grandchildren.
The Committee on Climate Change have delivered their vision today and they are to be commended for adding to the debate.