Back to: In the home agenda
Kaela: So we now have, very badly, we now have Chris Clarke from Wales and West, and he's going to talk about ways that we could heat our homes with hydrogen. So I'll hand over to Chris, and off you go.
Chris Clarke: Okay thank you. And thanks for the invitation to talk to you about heating in the home. I want to talk about the part that hydrogen could play and also, finally I'll just touch on some exciting developments that perhaps challenges the debate between Richard and I and and is there actually a best of both worlds. I think the first question I really wanted to answer and I'll explain this bit in detail is why do we need hydrogen at all, if we've got electrication as an option. We know that the technology works. So what's the problem? And I'll explain it in this slide if I may. So what I want to do is just show you what the profile of heat is and how seasonal it is over the year. So if you take demand for total energy and this includes transport, power and heat over the year, then you get a profile and this is the winter when you get very high amounts and this is all because of need for heat. It drops down in the summer and then climbs back up in the winter. A couple of cities in the UK are thinking about using solar power to heat their homes and this is the profile of solar generation and as you imagine, it's much, much higher in the summer, but in the winter it's actually virtually zero. Even on a sunny day like today, I was just looking at today's stats, (inaudible) got a short peak of high solar activity because it's very short and it's short daylight length, it doesn't actually produce much generation. And it's this gap, that is the problem that particularly the energy industry has in matching these two things together. Because if you generate it through renewables and then try and use it for heat, you've potentially got store it from the summer through to the winter. And that's where hydrogen comes in as an option.
Chris Clarke: So a little bit more about hydrogen. So it's been touched on today already and I just wanted to cover a little bit more about hydrogen, so it's a fuel that burns just like gas. But emits no carbon dioxide when it's actually used and you might be interested to know that it was actually the main component of Tang's gas. Tang's Gas was the gas we used in the UK before North Sea Gas came along. So actually, we've been using hydrogen for some decades. In fact centuries, to some degree in our heating systems, Um, produced, as we heard earlier, using chemical reaction either from methane or it can be generated from renewable electricity. Both ways are fine. But if you produce it through a chemical reaction, we heard earlier that it produces carbon dioxide and I'll touch on carbon oxide and what you do with it in a slide in a moment and in terms of what you do with it then, well, it can actually can flow through our existing gas pipes that probably about 80% of the United Kingdom has actually feeding to their homes. So you don't need to change all those pipes we were hearing about earlier from Richard and we've done research with the electricity networks which show that actually most of the electricity cables and substations, etc, would be subject to about two or three times the demand that they're under now and therefore might need a lot of work doing on them in the future. And the prices. Yeah electrolysis, which is using it from generating from electricity, are higher. But research now, because hydrogen is becoming more mainstream, becoming a method of generating energy than actually a lot more people are starting to think about hydrogen and how it can be produced and that is already starting to bring the prices down quite quickly. Uh, one of the key values of hydrogen is it can be stored in large quantities and if it's made from methane, then we can store methane in absolute massive quantities, as we do now to make sure that we actually provide enough power and heat through the winter.#
So what does it actually mean in the home itself? Well, several manufacturers now starting to design hydrogen ready boilers. What is a hydrogen ready boiler? It's basically, the picture shows you there on the screen, well it actually looks very, very similar to a normal boiler. In fact, the outside of it is identical. Fits in the same casing as an existing boiler and what it means, hydrogen ready is that if you bought one of these now, it will run on natural gas and then when hydrogen comes along and changes over, it changes over very easily to hydrogen without having to change the installation or do any more work in the home. Um, very similar to gas boiler. It's happening now. So in January, just last month, this started being produced and being fed into a gas network in Keele, Keele University, where homes in the industrial units there starting to be fed on a hydrogen blend at this stage and what we could see though, is if hydrogen ready boilers are rolled out now, so as and when you change that boiler, a little bit, a bit like the digital switchover of TV then actually gradually overtime all homes will be hydrogen ready for their heating systems. I think it's worth talking a little bit about some of the benefits and some of the challenges for that matter. I mentioned about how good it is in terms of its availability and how it could be stored and how come you seasonally. But there's no need to ban the boiler, which I've been hearing more and more about recently and therefore it is least disruptive to the homes. You don't have change your radiators, dig up your floors and if you've got a hydrogen ready boiler, you wouldn't even need to change the boiler. The point about maintaining industries well, hydrogen isn't just going to be used for heating homes. In fact, his primary purpose and initial purpose may well be for industrial use, keeping jobs in the UK under industry in this country. Some of the challenges. So we've heard about carbon capture and storage that is one of the challenges. It's not been used in the UK before, but it has been used internationally. In fact there are 19 places around the world where it's currently being used. In fact, it starts to be used in the North Sea is just not in our sector, but in the Norwegian sector, just across the North Sea from ourselves.
Member of the audience: I just wanted to raise that I thought you said it didn't produce any carbon dioxide
Chris Clarke: Yep. I'll explain that. So when it actually burns, it just produces water. But to create it from methane, it produces carbon dioxide at that point, yep, good question. Thanks for clarifying that. So you know is hydrogen produced the UK already? Yes it is, there are a number of plants, but they don't capture the carbon at the moment, so they would need to be used with that carbon caption storage. The people do have reservations about it. So I'm being completely open about that. Certainly around the technology, which is actually much more available than a number of people think it is, but also the commercial costs of hydrogen on and therefore, that has to be considered as part of this and I'll touch on that in a moment. In terms of design, so this is actually happening now. So in the North West of England, a detailed design study is being carried out which would see hydrogen initially being provided to industry with carbon capture and storage and that carbon dioxide will be pumped back into gas wells in the Liverpool Bay. Pumping gas back into gas wells is actually quite a routine activity, for quite a number of decades we did it in the UK in a storage field called Rough, which was one of the offshore gas fields in the North Sea. So we know that gas can be pumped back and securely stored underground in gas wells. I do want to spend just a moment or two talking about this new technology. If you want to call it that. It was actually, its existing technology but being used in a different way and this is hybrid heating systems. So can we perhaps take an existing central heating system and add a small air source heat pumper as Richard was showing you just now and effectively the benefits of this would be through switching technology so effectively the system will be able to switch and have a look, that if we got cheap, renewable electricity available to it at that time, then it would use that and for example, at the moment, we don't have that, we are actually burning cold at the moment to generate electricity as we sit here at the minute, whereas when it wasn't available, then it would use the gas and that green gas or could be green gas could be either bio-methane, which we touched on earlier, or it could be hydrogen. I did want to mention bio-methane, where I come from the South West of England, it's a bit of a bio-methane hot spot and actually, there is sufficient bio-methane using hybrid technology to heat half the homes in the South West of England already and therefore, it shouldn't be just discounted as there's not enough of it because actually, using hybrid technology, we could de carbonise homes across the South West of England. Bio-methane is made from waste. So Jenny described earlier using something called anaerobic digestion basically take perhaps a slurry, some farm waste and turn it into methane. So certainly, from my perspective, what would I want to do, in my home is certainly going outfit our hybrid heating system, because its least disruptive to me, it's going to much lower cost to fit in my home and it gives the earliest carbon reduction and has got the potential de carbonise my home completely. So anyway thank you very much for listening to me.
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