CCC: Progress on low-carbon hydrogen ‘must begin now’ in UK. Hydrogen is a “credible” option for reducing UK’s emissions if used “selectively”, according to the government’s climate advisers. It could replace natural gas in some otherwise hard-to-decarbonise areas, says a new report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This will be important as the UK must cut emissions from its whole energy system, the committee adds. The largest potential for hydrogen to cut emissions is as a low-carbon fuel for heat in buildings and industrial processes, the CCC says, and progress towards deployment at scale “must begin now”, if it is to play a role. However, it is “not prudent” to rely solely on hydrogen to replace gas, it says. This would mean increased gas imports to produce the hydrogen and could mean greenhouse gas emissions remain too high, it says. The report shows that hydrogen is “not the ‘silver bullet’” it is often claimed to be by the gas industry, a researcher not involved in the report tells Carbon Brief. The CCC considers that hydrogen production from gas with CCS has a “potentially important role”. Crucially, however, this would only provide emissions savings of 60-85% relative to gas use in boilers, because of imperfect CO2 capture and upstream methane emissions during gas extraction. As a result, a large-scale rollout of hydrogen from gas could mean the UK falls short on its climate goals. The CCC’s conclusions about where it is best to source hydrogen are disputed by some and German firms are already building relatively large-scale “power-to-gas” pilot plants. Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, says it is wrong to suggest that hydrogen produced from renewable power will always be too expensive. He adds: “The same was originally said about solar power and offshore wind, but, with focus and innovation, prices have tumbled dramatically. Using natural gas to make hydrogen is still polluting and, therefore, doesn’t have a future in a zero-carbon Britain.”
Carbon Brief 22nd Nov 2018 read more »
Millions of gas boilers will need to be replaced with hydrogen alternatives and coupled with electric heating devices if Britain is to hit its carbon targets at the lowest cost, according to the government’s climate advisers. In a report on the role hydrogen could play in the energy system, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) spelt out the huge but necessary cost the country faces to switch to green heating. The cheapest scenario, it said, is a mix of electrifying heating and fitting hydrogen boilers, and will cost the UK £28bn a year, or 0.7% of GDP, by 2050. While electricity supplies are rapidly switching to low-carbon sources, almost all homes today rely on fossil fuels – predominantly natural gas – for heating and cooking. The public is largely unaware of the alternatives, said the report, and consumer understanding is “far from where it would need to be” before decisions on decarbonising heating are made in the 2020s. While householders can keep their radiators, the CCC envisages that in future they will need to live in much more energy efficient homes with heat pumps that use electricity to draw heat from the ground or air, running alongside gas boilers. Air-source heat pumps cost about £6,000-£7,000 but are expected to become cheaper as they become more mainstream. To meet the long-term goal of cutting carbon emissions 80% by 2050, gas boilers would eventually need to be replaced by hydrogen ones that provide backup heating at times. Chris Stark, the chief executive of the CCC, said the committee had previously been a “bit suspicious” of heat pumps but was now confident enough to recommend their rollout as a hybrid heating measure running alongside gas boilers, before a later move to hydrogen too. Despite the high costs of decarbonising heating, the CCC believes the total consumers spend on energy bills could stay similar to today, as it expects electricity prices to fall as more is sourced from wind, solar and nuclear, and costs of running a car to become cheaper owing to the switch to electric vehicles.
Guardian 22nd Nov 2018 read more »
Carbon emissions from heating could be slashed by installing hybrid technology that does not require major changes to people’s homes, Government climate advisers have suggested. The potential for hybrid heat pumps using electricity most of the time and then hydrogen to meet peak demand on cold winter days has been a “light bulb moment”, the Committee on Climate Change said. While the Government has had success in cutting emissions from electricity, carbon from heating buildings has been a much more intractable problem because of the impact on people’s lives of changing how homes are heated. But a new report from the Committee said installing hybrid heat pumps for buildings on the gas grid, along with boosting energy efficiency and making new homes more efficient, could cut emissions to near zero by 2050. Hybrid versions of heat pumps, which use the UK’s increasingly low-carbon electricity to extract heat from the air, can be retrofitted around existing boilers, and do not require changes to radiators. The system would use gas on the coldest winter days to ensure the same performance as existing heating systems, while cutting emissions in the near term, the report said. The remaining gas supply could be switched to hydrogen at a later date to almost completely remove fossil fuel use in buildings. And the use of the hybrid heat pumps would need far less hydrogen than a wholesale switch of the gas grid to the cleaner fuel would require.
Energy Voice 22nd Nov 2018 read more »
According to the CCC, there’s currently no plan to systematically bring the costs of hydrogen technologies down and scale infrastructure across the country. That plan needs to be put in place now, say the government advisors, if we are to have the option of developing hydrogen technology to scale through the 2020s at an affordable cost. It’s the age old chicken-and-egg dilemma. What comes first? Carmakers won’t manufacture hydrogen cars without hydrogen fuel stations for their customers to use. Energy suppliers won’t install hydrogen-based heat networks without a reliable fuel supply. Industries won’t invest in a hydrogen-friendly production line without the fuel source to run it.
Business Green 22nd Nov 2018 read more »