Almost 2 million homes in Liverpool and Manchester could run on carbon-free hydrogen by 2034

Future of energy

  • Publication of new report on using hydrogen to heat homes in the North West
  • North of England could be 'global leader' in reducing carbon emissions this way
  • Simon Fairman, Cadent director: "Making significant strides in reducing carbon emissions from domestic heat must now be a priority for the UK"

Carbon-free hydrogen could be used to fuel North West home gas central heating systems in just 15 years, a report published today explains.
 
Widespread use of hydrogen, a gas which produces nothing but heat and water at point of use, would help rid the region of the environment-damaging carbon created by continuing to power our domestic boilers with natural gas.
 
‘H21 North of England’ sets out a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by delivering the zero-carbon gas to millions of homes and businesses across the North, including the cities of Leeds and Bradford. This would make it the largest clean energy project in the world.
 
The report has been led by Northern Gas Networks in partnership with Cadent and Norwegian energy company Equinor, who all expect hydrogen to play a major role in meeting carbon reduction targets in the UK and across the world. It finds that full conversion of the UK gas grid to hydrogen would reduce UK carbon emissions by over 258 million tonnes a year by 2050.
 
In parallel, Cadent is already advancing plans to blend hydrogen with natural gas to heat 2m North West homes – at volumes up to 20% – through its HyNet project. At these volumes, no changes to appliances are needed, making it a straightforward switch for the customer. The first trials of this get under way in 2019.
 
Operational by 2026, HyNet’s main focus though is on safely distributing 100% hydrogen to North West-based industries that rely heavily on heat.
 
H21 North of England looks at the prospects of taking this further, using 100 per cent hydrogen to meet the heating demands of domestic customers.  The proposals would see 3.7 million homes across the North, as well as 40,000 businesses, converted to run on hydrogen by 2034, including Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Bradford.
 
The Government has recently begun investing heavily on research into hydrogen conversion, with over £60m committed as part of its modern industrial strategy.
 
It is hoped the North of England will become the global leader in hydrogen conversion, creating thousands of new well-paid domestic jobs across the regions, leading hydrogen delivery, along with a lucrative export market available to sell skills and technology across the world.
 
Simon Fairman, Director Network Strategy and Safety, Cadent, said:
 
“Making significant strides in reducing carbon emissions from domestic heat must now be a priority for the UK. This report provides an important in-depth consideration of an innovative way to tackle this challenge for a large number of homes. Its vision complements our projects in the North West to position the North of England as pioneers for hydrogen delivery in the UK.”
 
Mark Horsley, Chief Executive, Northern Gas Networks, said:
 
“The H21 North of England report presents an exciting opportunity for cities like Manchester and Liverpool to play a world-leading role in achieving a low-carbon, hydrogen future. As well as reducing carbon emissions, hydrogen conversion in our region can create new, good jobs, improve air quality and stimulate the rollout of other hydrogen technology in the area, such as hydrogen cars, buses and trains.
 
“We are already working with the Government to develop hydrogen conversion technology and we look forward to building on these exciting projects over the coming years”.
 
Henrik Solgaard Andersen, H21 Programme Director, Equinor, said:
 
“Across the world, industry and Governments are becoming ever more interested in hydrogen’s potential to play a lead role in reducing carbon emissions across whole economies. This report will be of interest to many countries, but the UK has the ideal mix of geography, skilled workforce and existing technology to begin deep decarbonisation of heat today.
 
“H21 North of England is an excellent example of the dynamic UK-Norway energy partnership focused around the North Sea. And Equinor looks forward to working with our partners and the UK Government to make the H21 North of England project a world-leading example of decarbonisation and seize the opportunities it offers.”
 
H21 North of England key stats
  • World’s largest CO2 emissions reduction project
  • Detailed engineering solution setting out how to convert 3.7 million homes across the North of England to 100% hydrogen, including Leeds, Bradford, York, Huddersfield, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool
  • 20 million tonnes of CO2 stored each year through Carbon Capture and Storage technology
  • Six-phase UK rollout to decarbonise 70% of all domestic and commercial gas connections by 2050

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Kevin Hegarty

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