Hydrogen Key to Emissions Targets Says UK Grid
Hydrogen has a key role to play in heating and transport if the UK is to meet climate targets, the country’s electricity network operator said in a report released July 11.
A pledge earlier this year by the government made the UK the globe’s first major economy to commit to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The National Grid’s ‘Future Energy Scenarios’ (FES) report says the target is achievable, but stresses that greater action is needed.
“Reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is achievable,” the report announces. “However, this requires immediate action across all key technologies and policy areas.”
Alongside electrification, energy efficiency and carbon capture “at a significantly greater scale than assumed,” it says that the development of hydrogen as a fuel for heating and transport will be vital.
There is no room for delay in setting a clear strategy to decarbonise heating, FES states. Under scenarios that will allow 2050 targets to be achieved, UK homes and businesses need to transition to hydrogen and electric technologies for heat.
The report suggests over one-third of UK homes, or 11mn, could be hydrogen heated by 2050. The gas system will need to be transformed to accommodate hydrogen. Gas appliance standards must require boilers to be “hydrogen-ready”.
The report suggests that under the best scenario, consumers would overwhelmingly be driving electric personal vehicles and hydrogen would be widely used for commercial transport. The current fleet of 1,900 gas or hydrogen powered vehicles should swell to over 300,000 by 2040. At that point, 75% of cars would be electric.
The National Grid aims to be able to operate the UK electricity system at zero-carbon by 2025. To achieve the 2050 overall target, FES says the power sector will need to deliver negative emissions by, for example, employing biomass for generation and raising carbon capture.
“Existing interactions between gas and electricity networks will increase as gas generation provides more flexibility, and new technologies such as electrolysis and hybrid heat systems create new interfaces between electricity and gas systems,” the report reads.
Under the two scenarios that will achieve the 2050 target, the UK’s annual gas demand would drop from 804TWh in 2018 to 204-585TWh. Hydrogen production would jump from zero to as high as 312TWh. Starting from the same point, green gas production would rise to 6.7bn m3/yr.