The UK government, which has just declared it aims to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, has been told by Britain’s leading engineers that hydrogen can safely be used to replace natural gas in the country’s gas grid. Since 85% of homes in Britain use gas for cooking and heating and 40% of electricity is currently generated by gas, this would be a major leap towards cutting emissions − and it could be done in the next 30 years. It is an important development for all countries striving to reach zero emissions, because replacing gas central heating in homes and offices has always been described as one of the most difficult technical problems to overcome in order to attain a low-carbon future. If Britain were to replace natural gas with hydrogen in the grid it would be the first country in the world to do so, and the engineers caution that being a pioneer might produce unforeseen teething problems. “Using hydrogen in the UK’s gas grid for use by homes and businesses … could significantly contribute to the decarbonisation of the UK’s energy sector” They announce their news in a report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), using experts from five professional engineering institutions. It was commissioned by the government to assess the engineering risks and uncertainties around using hydrogen in homes, businesses and factories as a low-carbon fuel. The snag about the report for environmentalists is that the engineers suggest converting existing supplies of natural gas into hydrogen using a process called gas reforming, which effectively strips the carbon out of it. The problem with this technology is that the carbon would then have to be stored and used as a product, a technique that has yet to be properly developed on a large scale.
Climate News Network 17th June 2019 read more »