Green energy would be boosted if excess electricity from wind and solar farms was used to produce hydrogen for use in heating and other parts of the energy system, according to engineers. Renewables were the UK’s second biggest source of electricity in the last three months of 2017, and now provide about a third of the country’s power at certain times of day. National Grid has warned that at times this summer there will be more electricity being generated than needed; when demand is low, solar output is high and some inflexible power stations are hard to turn off. With a significant number of large new offshore windfarms due to come online over the next few years, the challenge of balancing supply and demand will continue to grow. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (iMechE) said the answer could be to use the power to generate hydrogen. The gas would later be blended in with normal gas supplies for heating supplies, sent to fuel cells to generate electricity, or used for topping up hydrogen vehicles, iMechE said in a report backed by the gas industry. The engineering group urged the government to bring the renewables, nuclear and gas industries together to work on “power to gas”, and encourage demonstration projects. The nuclear trade association welcomed the report. Jim Watson, director of the UK Energy Research Centre, said the report was good but cautioned it was pushing a very pro-gas agenda on how best to decarbonise heating, when there was still a lot of debate over the most cost-effective and feasible technologies. Separately, a new report on Wednesday warned that there were “major technical challenges” to decarbonising heating by switching to greener gases such as hydrogen.
Guardian 9th May 2018 read more »