The country would need 30 times as much offshore wind farm capacity to produce enough “green” hydrogen to replace all natural-gas boilers, the government’s official adviser says. Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, said that converting all gas heating systems to clean-burning hydrogen was “unwieldy and impractical” because of the difficulty of producing enough of it. More than 80 per cent of homes have gas boilers that emit carbon dioxide and will need to be replaced by 2050 to reduce emissions to “net zero”. In a green strategy last month the government said that it was leaving open “the choice as to whether we ultimately pursue hydrogen heating, an electrified heating system or a mixture of both”. Mr Stark told The Times that while he saw a role for pure hydrogen heating in some places, electrified heating such as heat pumps that draw warmth from the environment would need to be “the bedrock of the transition”, in large part because of the challenge of making enough hydrogen. The cleanest way of making it is through electrolysis, using renewable power such as that from wind farms to split water into “green” hydrogen and oxygen. Britain has about 10 gigawatts of offshore wind farm capacity today and has plans to quadruple that by 2030. Mr Stark said: “You’d need something like 300 gigawatts of offshore wind if you wanted to produce the amount of hydrogen that we’d need to straightforwardly replace natural gas, and that doesn’t seem like a practical solution.” The other way of making hydrogen is by processing fossil-fuel natural gas to extract hydrogen. However, this requires substantial infrastructure to capture and store carbon emitted in the process, Mr Stark said.
Times 7th Dec 2020 read more »