A new report launched today appears to have found a “winning combination” in the mission to decarbonise the UK, by using hydrogen (H2) to heat homes backed up with significant carbon capture and storage (CCS) development.
The two-year H21 Leeds City Gate project, undertaken by Northern Gas Networks (NGN), Kiwa Gastec, Amec Foster Wheeler and Wales and West Utilities, details the potential benefits that could arise from replacing natural gas in the UK city’s gas grid with ‘green’ H2.
CCS and H2 represent a winning combination for UK decarbonisation efforts
The project will redesign Leeds’s gas network and establish a high pressure (17 bar) outer city ring main in order to transport methane (CH4) to strategically placed steam methane reformers (SMRs) for distribution into the below 7 bar network.
This network could then be used to heat and cook homes across the city, which currently accounts for approximately 30% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. In turn, this could provide a pathway to slashing these emissions, as burning H2 instead of natural gas produces water rather than emitting carbon dioxide (CO2).
However, the report indicates that in order for the H2 to be truly low-carbon, the CO2 generated during the process needs to be securely stored – that’s where CCS comes into force.
According to the report, by capturing the CO2 and transporting it to secure offshore locations, using ‘green’ H2 in place of natural gas would result in a 73% drop in CO2 emissions for the entire system.
Stuart Haszeldine, Director of the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) organisation, commented on the initiative and said, “Replacing the use of natural gas with H2 for heating and cooking would almost completely decarbonise these systems. These have so far been a very difficult area of emissions to effectively reduce without digging up urban streets and at acceptable cost.”
“CCS and H2 represent a winning combination for UK decarbonisation efforts.”
The city of Leeds has been selected as the test region for the £260,000 ($336,600) initiative, but a subsequent and incremental rollout across the UK would considerably reduce carbon emissions from homes and make a huge contribution towards the Climate Change Act’s target of an 80% reduction by 2050.
Last week, scientists at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland secured funding for a four-year investigation into possible CO2 storage solutions in the North Sea.