An ambitious project initiated by Cadent, the main UK network provider, plans to provide first the industrial sector in Liverpool and Manchester with the cleaner hydrogen and later private households. For the pilot study, which is aimed to start in the 2020s, an investment of £600M is planned.
However, some critical issues must be raised and overcome to make the switch from methane gas to hydrogen possible: In the study, households will receive a blend of methane with up to a fifth of hydrogen, thus avoiding the expensive change of boilers to hydrogen-compatible ones (26M in the test area alone). Furthermore, to encounter fluctuation in gas consumption, particularly from private homes, hydrogen storage needs to be created.
The carbon savings will be made from the way the hydrogen is produced:
It will be made from natural gas using a method known as steam reforming, but Cadent’s plan is to capture the carbon monoxide and small amount of carbon dioxide generated during the process. The captured carbon will be pumped using existing pipelines and stored in Hamilton gas field in the Irish sea, which is due to be decommissioned in the early 2020s – a cost that could be avoided if the facility is repurposed as a repository for carbon.