We must ensure a just Net Zero energy transition for all - Cadent
As the UK continues its journey to Net Zero, 2020 is set to be a pivotal year for both policymakers and consumers. Recent funding announcements from BEIS suggests that the government is potentially ready to back hydrogen as a key energy vector, and all eyes will be on the budget and COP26 to see if this becomes a reality.
This would be welcome news. Currently, most UK houses use natural gas for heating, and this domestic heating accounts for 13% of the UK’s annual emissions footprint. Over 83% of UK homes are connected to the national gas grid, delivered to them via Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs) such as Cadent. Decarbonisation at scale could take place through utilising this existing national asset.
Cadent are already undertaking work to better understand how hydrogen can be used to heat and power our homes and businesses in the future. Projects such as Hydeploy, a trial of 20% hydrogen blend into the gas network at Keele university in order to asses the impact on customers appliances and the network, and Hynet North West, a low cost, project which meets the major challenges of reducing carbon emissions from industry, domestic heat and transport, are already in place and running.
However, any large-scale changes need to include consideration of the impact on the bill payer. Currently around 10% of UK households are considered to be in fuel poverty and with awareness of low-carbon heating systems low amongst the public, the industry needs to ensure consumers are engaged and involved in these policy-level decisions. Offering different payment methods for installation of low carbon heat, incentivising energy companies to offer different types of service and offering consumers choices offer what technology is installed, could all help in ensuring a smooth and just transition.
Increasing public awareness of the choices needed to be made to reach Net Zero needs to be considered alongside policy and industry development. And policy creation needs to cover the technological development as well as societal impacts. The earlier this discussion begins, the more likely we will succeed in reaching our Net Zero future.