After the successful launch of the Local Energy Market project in South Cornelly 2021, the Low Carbon Communities initiative is continuing into a new phase of investigating the use of locally produced hydrogen to replace some of the gas currently used to heat our homes and cook our food.
Like the previous works on solar ventilation and Photovoltaic system, our new project aims to decarbonise South Cornelly using locally produced renewable energy.
Hydrogen is likely to be a crucial part of our future energy supply, providing low-carbon heat for millions of homes in the UK and meet the UK Government target of net zero emissions by 2050.
This means reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions which come from burning fossil fuels like coal, diesel, and natural gas to power industries, vehicles, and buildings.
To meet UK Government targets, we need to find new, more environmentally friendly sources of energy and hydrogen is one option.
HyRES Phase 2 Scope
The scope of the current project phase is a feasibility/design study and will look at the best way to provide a 20% hydrogen blend into the existing natural gas network as well as supplying other key customers including the local agricultural community.
The feasibility study will look at the technology available to produce, store, transport and inject hydrogen into the natural gas grid. During this phase of the project engagement with the local community is designed to raise awareness for the project and taking into account local consumer views.
There will not be any in home surveys or gas safe checks required at this stage or any physical works completed.
How will it work
Green hydrogen is produced through a process called electrolysis, in which electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. In the case of green hydrogen, the electricity used in this process is generated from renewable sources such as wind or solar power, making the production of hydrogen carbon-neutral and environmentally friendly. Hydrogen has been shown to be a viable alternative to non-renewable gas for heating homes.
Despite hydrogen heating still being in its early stages, and a range of trial projects being undertaken within the UK, our objective for South Cornelly is to inject hydrogen into the existing natural gas network at a 20% blend. This level of blend was chosen because current household appliances are tested to 23% as routine, so no changes to gas boilers, ovens etc. will be necessary.
By injecting hydrogen into the gas network at this level, we minimise disruption to the residents of South Cornelly and provide significant decarbonisation of their heating. The project is at an early stage, and we are consulting with the community, undertaking the technical evaluation, and learning lessons for exiting projects.
The UK gas industry has a strong safety record, which we believe will improve with the transition to hydrogen. The industry is collaborating closely with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that the concerns connected with hydrogen for heat are appropriately understood and controlled by the gas networks. Unlike natural gas, hydrogen does not contain carbon, which eliminates the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by aging natural gas appliances.
The United Kingdom already has a track record of using hydrogen to heat homes especially in the 60s and 70s as towns gas contained 50% hydrogen.
However, at this stage a 20% blend is being considered which has been proven to be safe through the HyDeploy project, during which 600+ customers received a 20% blend over a 12-month period.
Using green hydrogen for heating has many potential benefits, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality by replacing fossil fuels. It can also help to increase the reliability and flexibility of renewable energy systems, by providing a way to store excess energy and use it when needed.
Due to the hydrogen gas sharing the same pipeline as the pre-exiting natural gas, minimal disruption will be made at a later date in the installation phase as no new pipelines will need to be laid into your homes. Due to the fact that the Green Hydrogen will be created locally, there will be greater assurance about where your energy is coming from.
With a 20% hydrogen blend, no appliances will need to be changed as they are already currently tested to support up to 23% hydrogen, but a routine gas safety check will be needed to ensure all appliances are compliant, but no changes should be needed.
Additionally, the general operation of a hydrogen boiler works exactly the same as a natural gas boiler, the only difference is that a green hydrogen boiler will not release any carbon into the atmosphere
Of course, in the current phase we are working on the feasibility and design of the project, so no action will be needed on your homes.
Calculating the cost of hydrogen gas at this time in the technology's development is difficult. We do know that it will fall as industry efforts to develop new technology progressively increase.
It always takes time to adapt to new technology. Wind power, for example, was formerly unaffordable, but after years of investment and development, it is now one of the cheapest energy sources in the UK. The same thing is taking place with hydrogen.
We also know that establishing a hydrogen economy right here in the UK will safeguard homeowners from some of the current fluctuations in energy costs because the country will control its supply.
Other than the way it is produced and its environmental impact there will be no major noticeable differences in the way you home is heated.