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Delivering the future of gas

Delivering the future of gas
Jonathan Collins, External Affairs Manager

Jonathan Collins, External Affairs Manager | Cadent

5 min read Partner content

The UK has a target to be net zero by 2050. That means reducing harmful CO2 emissions by 100%. Those emissions come from burning fossil fuels like coal, diesel and fossil gas – to power our industries, run our cars and lorries and heat our homes and businesses. We have to find new ways – greener ways – to do these things.

Cadent - Your gas network 

Cadent brings gas to 11 million homes and businesses throughout the North West, West Midlands, East Midlands, South Yorkshire, East of England and North London. We're committed to keeping you safe and warm. 

Home heating in the UK 

Over one third of CO2 emissions come from heating our homes and offices so decarbonising heat is a major issue for the UK to address. We are working on ways to achieve this and believe that the best way to keep customers warm whilst enjoying the flexibility of gas with minimum disruption, is to use the existing network to deliver greener gases like biomethane and hydrogen. They work just as well as fossil gas but without the CO2emissions, in fact hydrogen produces zero emissions. 

We fully support renewable electricity from wind and solar to meet lots of the country’s energy needs but it is now well understood that if we are to reach 100% carbon reduction, hydrogen will be essential to heat our homes, fuel heavy transport and power industries. 

A guide to hydrogen energy 

For those who remember school science lessons, you’ll know hydrogen as the first element on the periodic table. Hydrogen itself is never found on its own, rather as part of more complex molecules, like water. 

The great thing about hydrogen is that when it’s burned, it only produces water so there are no carbon gases released when hydrogen is used.  And it can be used for heat, power and even fuel for large vehicles like HGVs.  Hydrogen holds a lot of energy so it’s great for transporting large amounts of energy to where it’s needed. 

But hydrogen isn’t found naturally on its own, it has to be made either through electrolysis or through reforming methane.  Both methods can be used in a way that keeps carbon emissions to a minimum. 

With much of the UK looking to switch to greener, sustainable energy in the future, we’ve put together some important information to answer your hydrogen questions and explain how we’re playing our part to achieve the UK government's ambition of net zero by 2050. 

The many uses of hydrogen: what is hydrogen used for? 

When it comes to energy, hydrogen is one of the cleanest forms you can find; when it's burned or used in a fuel cell for a vehicle, the only by-product is water. This means that increased use of hydrogen as a fuel will mean cutting down on carbon emissions produced from conventionally used fossil fuels such as gas and coal. In fact, using a hydrogen fuel cell in an electric vehicle is two to three times more efficient than using a combustion engine. 

Why hydrogen energy for the UK? 

In 2019, the UK emitted 351.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuels, accounting for 81% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

It's widely accepted now that this needs to stop and soon. The way we heat our homes, run our vehicles and power our industries have all contributed to climate change. We're looking for solutions that balance environmental targets with customer needs. 

In order to supply the increasing energy demands of the UK, we will need a combination of approaches. Renewable electricity from wind and solar can do a lot. But to reach 100% net zero we will certainly need hydrogen as well, alongside better insulated homes and smarter use of energy. We aim to see electricity and green gas working together in partnership.

Hydrogen demonstrations are underway 

Around one third of the UK's CO2 emissions come from heat so it is crucial to reduce these by changing the way we heat our homes. 83% of UK households are connected to the gas grid so we need to find a green alternative that doesn't disrupt customers. 

HyDeploy is a pioneering hydrogen energy project, led by Cadent to help reduce UK CO2 emissions and provide hydrogen to homes across the UK. Since November 2019 it has been providing blended hydrogen to 100 ordinary homes on the Keele University campus. HyDeploy is successfully demonstrating that blending up to 20% volume of hydrogen with fossil gas is a safe and greener alternative to the gas we use now. And it’s doing this using customers’ existing appliances to keep any disruption to a minimum. 

Hydrogen village – delivering a hydrogen future 

Around 2,000 homes, connected to the existing gas network and receiving low-carbon hydrogen instead of natural gas, for heating and cooking. 

​This is the Hydrogen Village – a world-leading programme to demonstrate the benefit and process of hydrogen gas being supplied via existing local gas pipes, to decarbonise local heating. 

The demonstration, which is expected to commence by 2025, is a key milestone on the Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which sets out a framework to build back better, support green jobs and accelerate the UK’s path to Net Zero. 

Expanding on the extensive work already undertaken by gas network companies and appliance providers in using hydrogen for heating and cooking, the Hydrogen Village will play an important role in our path to Net Zero – helping the Government make a policy decision by 2026 on how to decarbonise heating and the role of the gas networks in delivering hydrogen. 

Cadent Gas has recently started engaging with residents of a village in Whitby, Ellesmere Port, with a view to the Hydrogen Village being established in this location. 

Net Zero is 28 years away 

With only 28 years to go until we reach 2050, it is going to take a monumental effort to reach this target. It will take a whole-system approach to reach this, with a significant roll out of heat pumps, heat networks and hydrogen to ensure that all areas of the UK are able to heat their homes with a low-carbon technology. 

For more information about the Whitby Hydrogen Village, please visit https://hydrogenvillage.com/ 

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