Leeds-city study shows that using hydrogen (and storing carbon) could cut UK heating emissions by 70%

Prof Stuart Haszeldine
Prof Stuart Haszeldine

Using ‘green’ hydrogen for heating would significantly reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions, a new report has found – but only if matched with development of significant carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities.

The Leeds City Gate project report outlines the benefits of replacing natural gas in the city’s gas grid with ‘green’ hydrogen – a solution which could be rolled out to the rest of the country.

Burning hydrogen instead of natural gas produces pure water rather than CO2, providing a way to slash the CO2 emissions from heat and cooking – currently over 30% of the UK carbon emissions.

The two year project, undertaken by Northern Gas Networks, Kiwa Gastec, Amec Foster Wheeler and Wales & West Utilities, assessed the prospects for using hydrogen in place of natural gas for cooking in heating – beginning in Leeds and eventually covering the entire UK.

However, the report points out that generating hydrogen from fossil fuels would require that the CO2 generated during this process be securely stored in order for the hydrogen to be truly low carbon. An alternative method of producing hydrogen from water using electricity would be far more expensive – even if generated using renewable energy.

By capturing the CO2 and transporting it to secure offshore locations to be stored safely underground, using this ‘green’ hydrogen in place of natural gas would achieve a 73% reduction in CO2 emissions for the entire system, according to the report.

As highlighted in the report, existing gas infrastructure can be used for hydrogen transportation, and many new jobs created as part of the roll-out of a hydrogen programme.

Welcoming the Leeds report, Prof. Stuart Haszeldine, Edinburgh-based Director of the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage project, said: “Replacing the use of natural gas with hydrogen for heating and cooking would almost completely de-carbonise these systems.

“These have so far been a very difficult area of emissions to effectively reduce without digging up urban streets and at acceptable cost.

“’Green’ hydrogen and carbon capture represent a winning combination for UK decarbonisation efforts.”

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