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Hydrogen: Untapped Energy?


Hydrogen has potential applications across our future energy systems due particularly to its relatively high energy weight ratio and because it is emission-free at the point of use. Hydrogen is also abundant and versatile in the sense that it could be produced from a variety of primary energy sources and chemical substances including water, and used to deliver power in a variety of applications including fuel cell combined heat and power technologies. As a chemical feedstock, hydrogen has been used for several decades and such expertise could be fed back into the relatively new areas of utilising hydrogen to meet growing energy demands.
The UK interest in hydrogen is also growing with various industrial, academic and governmental organisations investigating how hydrogen could be part of a diverse portfolio of options for a low carbon future. While hydrogen as an alternative fuel is yet to command mass-appeal in the UK energy market, IGEM believes hydrogen is capable of allowing us to use the wide range of primary energy sources at our disposal in a much greener and sustainable way.
IGEM also sees hydrogen playing a small but key role in the gas industry whereby excess renewable energy is used to generate hydrogen, which is then injected into the gas grid for widespread distribution and consumption. Various studies suggest admixtures containing up to 10 – 50%v/v hydrogen could be safely administered into the existing natural gas infrastructure. However, IGEM understands that this would currently not be permissible under the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations (GS(M)R) for gas conveyance here in the UK. Also, proper assessments of the risks associated with adding hydrogen to natural gas streams will need to be performed so that such systems can be managed effectively.
IGEM has also identified a need for standards that cover the safety requirements of hydrogen technologies, particularly those pertaining to installations in commercial or domestic environments. IGEM also recommend that the technical measures used to determine separation distances for hydrogen installations, particularly refuelling stations, are re-assessed through a systematic identification and control of potential sources of ignition.
Hydrogen has the potential to be a significant fuel of the future and part of a diverse portfolio of energy options capable of meeting growing energy needs. This report, therefore, seeks to demonstrate how hydrogen could be a potential option for energy storage and power generation in a diverse energy system. It also aims to inform the readers on the current state of hydrogen here in the UK and abroad. This report has been assembled for IGEM members, interested bodies and the general public.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United Kingdom

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