By transitioning to deliver hydrogen, Britain's gas networks have huge potential to deliver green investment around the country. Gus McIntosh, Director of Energy Futures, SGN writes.
Using hydrogen in our homes doesn’t just mean reducing our carbon emissions from heating, hot water and cooking – it also means that gas network companies will be able to invest in communities around the country, helping deliver new low carbon infrastructure and green jobs.
Here’s three reasons how Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan can help do that:
1. By using the footprint of our gas networks
Creating a world-leading hydrogen economy could help deliver over 200,000 jobs to the UK economy by the time we reach our net zero target in 2050.
With 85% of Britain’s homes connected to the gas grid, we have one of the most extensive and efficient gas networks in the world. With that footprint, we can ensure our investment as an industry is spread right across the country.
We have another role too, acting as a platform for new technologies like hydrogen production, storage and export. Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan seeks to ensure that producers can connect to the gas grid quickly and easily, helping create new jobs in these areas.
That’s why gas networks’ plans to deliver on the Prime Minister’s ambition to create the first hydrogen neighbourhood, village and town by 2030, as set out in Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan, are particularly exciting.
2. By investing in hydrogen-ready infrastructure today
Some of the work to prepare our networks has already begun. Gas network companies have been investing in a 30 year programme, replacing old iron mains pipes with new, hydrogen-ready plastic pipes since 2002. So far we’ve replaced almost two-thirds – or 60,000km - of local gas pipes already, enough piping to go one and half times around the world.
With the right funding agreed by the regulator, this work alone could see £28bn investment delivered into communities around the country by 2032, when the programme is due to complete.
3. By using our innovation projects to create new opportunities
Innovation projects have a vital role to play. From the Moray Firth to the edge of the Solent, gas network companies have proposed over £900m of investment in research projects around the country that will tackle challenges and exploit the opportunities before us, creating new green jobs in cutting edge research that could be exported around the world. We are also playing a role in delivering £1.5bn of funding in industrial decarbonisation projects around the country.
Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan sets out how all of this work will come together – and ensure that a hydrogen-fuelled future doesn’t just ensure we play our part in tackling the climate emergency, but delivers a lasting economic legacy too.
About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).
Energy supplier or network operator? Energy network operators are entirely separate to your energy supplier, which is the company that bills you for using electricity and gas. Energy suppliers and generators are represented by Energy UK.