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On the road to net zero - the role of biomethane
A blog by Cadent's Tina Hawke
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To tackle climate change, the government has set a target to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This means we can no longer burn natural gas in our homes and businesses. We are exploring solutions for the use of low carbon gases in our Future of Gas programme...
Over one third of CO2 emissions come from heating our homes and offices so decarbonising heat is a major issue 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 CO2 emissions, in fact hydrogen produces zero emissions when burned.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and it holds lots of energy which is why it makes a great gas for transporting large amount of energy to where it is needed. The difference is that hydrogen has to be made and there are a few low carbon ways of doing this (find out about blue and green later). When hydrogen is burnt it just produces water, so there are neither CO2 emissions nor carbon monoxide at point of use.
Along with low carbon energy sources such as hydrogen, solar and wind power, biomethane is one of the sustainable energy sources that could allow for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Biomethane is made from renewable sources such as food waste.
The gas we use in our boilers, hobs, ovens and fires is usually called natural gas. It would be more accurate to call it fossil gas because it comes from the decay of plants that were alive millions of years ago. This decay formed carbon dioxide (CO2) in large deposits underground including under the sea. The gas industry has been extracting this gas for decades and it’s helped to heat our homes and power our industries for more than 100 years. In fact, we use 900 TWh of fossil gas every year in the UK. Now, though, because we realise that the CO2 released when fossil gas burns is harmful to our climate, we need to move away from it as much as possible by 2050.
Manufactured from coal and consisted of Hydrogen, Carbon monoxide, Methane and Carbon dioxide.
Naturally occurring fossil fuel consisting of Methane, Ethane, Propane and other gases. Fossil gas was introduced into the network to replace Town gas.
Biomethane (a biogas produced from anaerobic digestion) was first injected into our gas network (at Didcot) in 2010. Over time, more and more biomethane connections are being made to the network.
Following the government's decision on the UK heat strategy, we seek to blend 20% Hydrogen (H) into the network.
Our network would look to move to 100% hydrogen, with the Hydrogen production becoming "greener" over time - Green H is Hydrogen derived from renewables.
We’re involved in several hydrogen projects in partnerships with the energy sector.
The three main areas we lead on are blending, industrial power and decarbonising heavy transport.
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