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Hydrogen homes can power the economy

Converting homes and businesses to run on hydrogen rather than natural gas could help substantially reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, create thousands of new jobs and provide a much welcome boost to the economy, says UNISON.

The union, which represents thousands of workers employed in the energy sector, was responding to the H21 North of England report  which sets out detailed plans on how hydrogen could be used as a way to deliver clean energy to millions of homes across the North of England.  They are urging the UK Government to give the scheme the go-ahead.

The report outlines how over 3.7 million homes and 40,000 businesses and industries in the north of England that are heated by natural gas could be converted to hydrogen by 2034. The project also proposes a six-phase UK roll-out which could see a further 12 million homes across the rest of the country converted to hydrogen by 2050.

Commenting on the report, UNISON national officer for energy Matt Lay said:

This is the future. It’s the clean energy supply that could make a positive difference to the environment, and secure jobs in the sector for years to come.

But any significant change clearly won’t come cheap. That’s why the government must get behind this initiative, and give the go ahead to allow this sensible scheme to get off the ground.

A mass conversion to hydrogen, beginning in the north and eventually spreading to the entire country, might be a little disruptive for households and businesses. But bold decisions like this are the only way we will keep homes warm, ensure the lights stay on and preserve the environment for future generations to enjoy.

The UK has committed to reducing its carbon emissions to at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. Currently, over 30% of emissions come from domestic heating and cooking.

The H21 North of England report finds that converting the UK gas grid to hydrogen has the ability to provide ‘deep decarbonisation’ of heat, as well as transport and power generation, with minimal disruption to customers. This has the combined potential to reduce carbon emissions by over 258 million tonnes a year by 2050, equating to over 80% of the UK’s remaining reduction target.

The report claims this would be ‘the world’s largest CO2 emission reduction project, preventing 12.5 million tonnes of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere each year’.

Chris Stark, Chief Executive, Committee on Climate Change said:

The CCC welcome this report and recognises the potential H21 has to make a large impact in UK and global climate change obligations.  We have advised UK Government that a credible, deliverable policy decision to provide deep decarbonisation of heat across the UK needs to be taken within the next parliament.

Find out more about Unison and how to become a member.

Photo: Unison