Almost 85% of our homes today are heated using natural gas but it isn’t sustainable.
This is what Danielle Stewart, hydrogen project director for Project Union at National Gas Transmission told us.
Danielle believes that we should replace natural gas with hydrogen to decarbonise at low cost.
She said: ‘Hydrogen is not new. It’s a low carbon alternative for natural gas, potentially. At the point of use, it burns without producing carbon dioxide. So it means it’s a cleaner and greener alternative to natural gas and it can be produced and stored at scale here in the UK.’
Danielle told us that it is important to ensure that the energy transition is equitable.
She said: ‘It’s not decarbonisation at all costs. We need to think about moving to a more sustainable future but in a way that is affordable and maintains energy security for everyone. So that it is fair and equitable.’
She said: ‘It can ensure that we have ongoing energy security in the energy transition to net zero and it can easily be transported through our existing pipelines and infrastructure.
‘So there’s a lot of potential for hydrogen. There’s parts of the UK industry that perhaps can’t electrify, but they could use hydrogen and this could save thousands of jobs in the UK but also, it represents a historic opportunity for the UK to build new job creating industries.
‘So the government believes that we could have up to 100,000 jobs by 2050, which really can boost growth and opportunity in parts of the country that would otherwise be left behind.
‘Hydrogen is like an insurance policy for the country. So when the system is under a lot of stress and demand for electricity is high, gas can come in and help to generate that electricity.’
Danielle told us that we cannot disregard any technologies when it comes to the energy transition.
She said: ‘We’re going to need to explore a mix of technologies and a mix of solutions if we’re going to get to net zero. It’s a challenge of both scale and of pace and I can’t see that one solution is going to fit all for this.
‘I think there is value in electrification, there is value in hydrogen, there is value in biomethane.
‘All technologies are going to be needed if we are to maintain a secure and resilient energy system in the future. I don’t think we can rule anything out at the moment.’
The project that Danielle leads, Project Union, will explore repurposing existing gas infrastructure for hydrogen.
She said: ‘It’s a programme of work to look at how we can, where possible, repurpose our existing natural gas infrastructure in the UK to carry 100% hydrogen by the early-to-mid 2030s.’
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