What Is Green Hydrogen?
Dec 10 2020
Scotland is set to become the first country in the world to trial using 100% green hydrogen to heat homes and fuel cooking appliances. Over the next two years, hundreds of homes across Fife are to be fitted with environmentally friendly boilers, heaters, ovens and stoves, as the country looks to wean itself off its addiction to fossil fuels.
The plan is to allow these homes to receive green hydrogen free of charge by the end of 2022, with a further 700 properties targeted for expansion of the project if the initial phase proves to be a success. The announcement represents a significant step forwards for Scotland’s environmental profile and could provide an inspirational blueprint for other countries to follow if all goes to plan.
Hydrogen holds the answer?
Zero carbon hydrogen, which uses a mixture of renewable energy sources and water to generate its power, has been identified as a key way in which the Scottish government can embrace a low-carbon future. As well as investigating environmentally responsible methods of carbon capture and storage (CCS), the SNP are looking at ways to move away from more damaging forms of energy generation.
As recently as 2018, it was believed by some speculators that the future of UK gas lay with biomethane and shale. While those two energy sources still have a part to play in the national energy portfolio, hydrogen is emerging as a strong contender. Although this gas works in much the same way as traditional fossil fuels, it does not come with any of the attendant carbon emissions.
That’s particularly important when it comes to central heating, since generating warmth for British homes is responsible for almost a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. At present, 85% of properties around the country use a gas boiler.
A ground-breaking initiative
Scotland is hoping to change all that. By 2022, around 300 homes in Fife, one of the central regions of the nation, will be fitted with boilers, heaters and cooking appliances which are powered entirely by green hydrogen.
The initiative is being financially backed by energy regulator Ofgem, who have earmarked £18 million for the project. Ofgem also plan to invest a further £12.7 million into trialling “offline” hydrogen pipelines, wherein they will test how safely and efficiently they are able to transport large amounts of hydrogen across the country using old pipes which belong to the gas grid. Meanwhile, the Scottish government is also putting aside a grant of £6.9 million for the initial trial.
“If we truly want to reach a net zero decarbonised future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen,” explained Anthony Green, the chief of the project. “Sectors such as heat are difficult to decarbonise, and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means projects like this are crucial if we are to deliver low carbon energy, reliably and safely to all consumers.”
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