The benefits of using hydrogen to reduce our carbon emissions from our heating, hot water & cooking can reach far beyond the front door of our homes, says Chris Train, ENA’s Gas Goes Green Champion.
Reducing our household carbon emissions by 95% over the next thirty or so years is a huge challenge – and one that is already requiring us to rethink the way we will use our energy.
For Britain’s gas and electricity networks, that means delivering investment to build the infrastructure needed for new green technologies - creating benefits that go way beyond our front doors.
It’s worth remembering the big economic footprint of our gas and electricity grid infrastructure, with wires and pipes criss-crossing every part of the country that are worth about £60bn. 40,000 people are employed by energy network companies in the UK and Ireland.
When we invest in our grid infrastructure, we invest in Britain’s local communities and supply chains.
Working with the increased use of electricity, hydrogen and biomethane grid infrastructure has a vital role to play in delivering green investment. Our gas networks alone stretch to a total of 284,000km of pipelines, serving 85% of homes in Great Britain.
That’s enough pipeline to go almost five times around the world’s equator - or to travel three-quarters of the way to the Moon.
In Britain’s Hydrogen Network Plan, we set out our roadmap to converting that infrastructure to run on hydrogen instead of natural gas. For Britain’s local gas networks, a lot of progress has already been made, with hydrogen-ready piping already installed in nearly two thirds of their networks. By 2032, they plan to have invested a total of £28bn since 2014 in doing so.
Our research shows that converting the UK to a hydrogen economy will mean the country as a whole investing a total of around £159bn over the next 30 years. This investment will be paid back through benefits to customers, from 2045, coming to £116bn by 2050 – and counting.
What’s more, if we use electricity, hydrogen and biomethane working together to reduce our carbon emissions, rather than just electricity by itself, we won’t need to build as much infrastructure to deliver the same amount of energy to people. That will save our economy £13bn a year by the time we hit our 2050 Net Zero emissions target.
So, in the coming weeks, we’ll be setting out the opportunity that hydrogen in our homes presents within that context, including:
- The green jobs and investment benefits that our proposed hydrogen gas network innovation projects can have in regional economies across Great Britain.
- How hydrogen can support our wider energy system, including enabling greater amounts of renewable electricity generation, because of its ability to store energy for whenever we need it, using our home heating bills to help build more windmills.
- How hydrogen in our homes will support a wider range of green technologies than might otherwise be the case, for industry and transport to use to reduce their carbon emissions.
All of these are examples of just how hydrogen in our homes can form part of a wider plan to ensure that we as a country don’t just invest to decarbonise, but we invest to deliver long-term, sustainable economic benefits to the communities around us.
And they once again demonstrate 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.
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).