An Australian-first project to test whether renewable hydrogen derived from excess solar and wind energy can be used in existing gas networks and appliances to replace natural gas is underway in the Australian Capital Territory. The trial project, a partnership between the Canberra Institute of Technology and ACT network operator Evoenergy, will test up to 100 per cent hydrogen in a number of practical situations where natural gas is currently used. Officially launched on Tuesday by ACT environment and energy minister Shane Rattenbury, the test facility will be rolled out in three phases over the coming 12 months.
Renew Economy 4th Dec 2018 read more »
Switching or repurposing the gas network from methane to Hydrogen, technically is possible. That’s a problem with engineers. One asks them “can it be done” and they invariably say “yes”. What society really needs is an assessment of “should it be done” and that brings in other aspects such as finance, pace and broader outcomes. There are ambitious plans to explore the viability of hydrogen in Leeds. The repurposing of every km of gas network and every device is possible but it’s complex which is why the estimates are in the tens of billions of pounds. Spending that amount of money isn’t quick so the estimates for completion of this 10% of our national gas challenge are mid-2030s. London has woken up and pioneered clean air zones and whilst not widely reported in the press is preventing new buildings from having their heating from gas or even gas CHP. This is an interesting and necessary move but brings me to two points. Firstly, developers must not be allowed to pick a cheap solution in direct electric heating. The challenge to the UK grid of electrification is evident. We must lessen the challenge by using electricity wisely. Secondly and this is what is really worrying. Planning only touches new buildings or heavy refurbs. What we need is a clear and simple plan of how to roll out noncombustion, high efficiency heating solutions. In individual buildings it’s called a heat pump. There are over 1 million sold in Europe every year. Every year they get more efficient and reach higher temperatures so even our rather poor building stock would work. We need government to set the signal, ala diesel 2032 saying “replacement gas boilers will be banned” by 2030. I’d immediately ban gas boilers in new houses. It kind of is except folk seem to ignore it. It’s even in the Clean Growth Strategy of the Conservative Government. At a fixed price or variable vs consumption, 10% cheaper than gas but using a domestic heat pump. The big guns would fix the kinks in the supply chain and have a hugely flexible load that can dim down if the grid is stressed. The consumer doesn’t have to stump up cash. The local authority would add a bonus on council tax if the property was resold. Everyone wins. So what’s stopping us? Well no end user can deliver this district heating. It has to be offered to them by a DH company. And no DH investor will speculatively spend millions on a pipe network/clean heat generation if the end users don’t have to buy from them. Our client city Drammen, in Norway, solved this very simply.
Herald 3rd Dec 2018 read more »