Almost four million homes across northern England could be converted to use hydrogen gas for heating and cooking by 2034 under a £23 billion scheme to tackle climate change. Boilers and gas cookers would need to be replaced or converted under the plan, which would add more than £50 to the annual energy bill of every UK home, according to three companies involved in gas supply. Tens of thousands of kilometres of existing gas pipelines could be used, however, which the companies say would make the scheme cheaper and less disruptive than other “green” heating options. Burning natural gas for heating and cooking creates carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that causes global warming. Decarbonising heating, which accounts for about 30 per cent of carbon emissions in Britain, is one of the biggest energy challenges facing the government. The UK has committed to reducing carbon emissions by at least 80 per cent from 1990 levels. Options include switching to hydrogen gas, which produces only heat and water when burnt; installing electric-powered “heat pumps” or setting up local heat networks that send hot water to homes from a central renewable source. Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, the government’s official climate advisers, said that a policy decision on how to proceed needed to be taken by “the early 2020s” if Britain were to meet its tough goals on reducing emissions. The option of using hydrogen is being taken seriously by the government, which has already committed £25 million to funding projects to demonstrate that appliances can be run on it safely. The report sets out the most detailed plans yet for how the switch to hydrogen could begin in 2028 with a seven-year programme to convert 3.7 million homes and 40,000 businesses in cities including Leeds, Newcastle, York, Manchester and Liverpool.
Times 20th Nov 2018 read more »