How does decarbonising our heavy industry help with reducing our household carbon emissions? Angie Needle, Director of Strategy at Cadent, explains.
Reducing carbon emissions from our heavy industry will lay the foundations for the wider decarbonisation of Britain’s gas grid, which 85% of our homes rely upon for their home heating, hot water, and cooking. The emissions from heating our homes needs to reduce dramatically if we are to meet our goal and that means exploring new home heating solutions such as hydrogen as an alternative to fossil gas.
Under the Gas Goes Green Pathway to Net Zero, from 2030 our plans are to gradually expand the use of hydrogen and biomethane being used in the gas grid, which will work in partnership with electricity to replace the carbon emitting natural gas we currently rely upon.
The stepping-stones to do that are through the development of hydrogen production centres, which will initially be based around a number of ‘industrial clusters’ across the country.
Industrial clusters have been identified by the UK Government as being strategically significant to our economy, because they have a large number of industrial businesses in one location, including for example manufacturing, chemicals, iron, steel, glass, ceramics, and paper.
Manufacturing products like these today requires lots of fossil gas and some processes also produce carbon dioxide as a by-product. These types of industries have limited opportunity to electrify and so a conversion to hydrogen is the most feasible solution. The first six industrial clusters identified by the UK Government are:
- South Wales.
Together with other regional partners, Cadent is part of the HyNet North West cluster in Merseyside. This scheme will enable the early capture of carbon dioxide from industrial processes, the production of hydrogen and the distribution of it within the region and North Wales to a range of businesses such as fertiliser production, cement manufacture and power generation.
From 2025, this cluster will capture and store 1mtCO2 as well as make 3TWh of hydrogen, ramping up to more than 30 TWh by 2030. That’s 80% of the Government’s Ten Point Plan target for hydrogen production in the UK.
So, what has this got to do with using hydrogen for our home heating, hot water and cooking?
HyNet will also blend hydrogen into the gas grid to enable homes to start using a 20% mix of hydrogen and fossil gas and start early decarbonisation of heat. In later phases, the use of hydrogen will expand to include local homes converted to 100% hydrogen.
Under the Gas Goes Green Pathway, National Grid plans to repurpose the existing long-distance gas transmission pipelines that move hydrogen around the country, joining these industrial clusters together, building the foundations of the zero-carbon gas grid. These pipelines are like the motorways to the local gas distribution networks’ A and B roads, that deliver gas to your front door.
Hydrogen use will then expand outwards these industrial clusters over time to other industrial users and then into the wider community, including homes and other businesses. Once converted, a gas user would be supplied with 100% hydrogen, with homes using hydrogen-ready boilers for their heating, hot water, and cooking. Blending of hydrogen into unconverted sections of the gas networks (up to a maximum of 20% by volume) would be used to help balance hydrogen supply and demand.
Following a cluster-based approach means that the distribution of renewable gases will be much more regionalised than it is today. While hydrogen deployment will be cluster-based, distributing biomethane will be more progressive, essentially “filling in the gaps” between the hydrogen clusters, creating new opportunities for local biomethane producers such as farmers and water companies.
The impact of using hydrogen and biomethane to reduce our carbon emissions for heating, hot water and cooking goes way beyond our front doors. Industrial clusters are another example of how tomorrow’s heat, is today’s opportunity.
Notes to editor
Gas Goes Green #H2Explainers are a series of blogs setting all the key information you need to know about how Britain’s gas networks are working to deliver hydrogen to our homes, as part of our 'Tomorrow's Heat, Today's Opportunity' campaign. Check out the ENA Newsroom to find other articles and updates from both gas and electricity network companies.
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.
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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).