The battle lines are drawn on blending
24th Jan 2022
I know it’s hard to believe, because it is a no brainer, but it looks like the idea of blending up to 20 per cent hydrogen into the gas networks is going to become the next battleground with the all-electric lobby. Within hours of the publication of the latest ENA report into delivery of blended gas by 2023 the attacks came.
They all followed the same pattern. Where is the hydrogen coming from? There are better uses of it. It won’t deliver much reduction in carbon. What they really mean, is that it paves the way for the network switch to hydrogen, which must be stopped because they are all-electric fundamentalists. There are times when holding such dogmatic positions actually harms the very cause that you claim to care about – in this case the actual war on carbon.
So the basic point that needs to be reinforced is that hydrogen blending reduces carbon emissions (at point of use) because it displaces a natural gas with a zero carbon alternative. Factoring in the different calorific values, a 20 per cent blend equates to a 6 million tonnes a year carbon saving across the UK’s gas networks. Now some earnest all-electric lobbyists decry this saving, too small they say. But it is the equivalent of switching 3.5 million gas boilers to heat pumps (it’s a big change then of course).
To make that level of appliance switch, using the Government’s own figures, would cost £35 billion – yes, count those 000000000s. That’s a huge sum and I never hear Ministers saying who is going to pay for this.
Blending also helps to kick-start the hydrogen production supply-chain. We know that hydrogen is going to be needed to meet Net Zero, so the sooner this happens the better. Cost reductions from producing electrolysers, for example, will be key to delivering green hydrogen – something that globally is seen as the panacea for energy security and carbon reductions.
Home produced hydrogen also displaces imported natural gas. Now I stray into geopolitics rarely, but we might find trusted allies in Norway, the US and Qatar for our gas imports, I’m not sure I put Russia into that same category. Given developments around Ukraine, I might be right to be wary.
Mike Foster, CEO
EUA's Chief Executive
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