Boris Johnson outlines plans to hit net zero

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With the Prime Minister committed to reaching Net-Zero by 2050, the Government has set out plans to ban gas boilers from as early as 2025 It is part of Mr Johnson’s plan to ignite a “green industrial revolution” in the UK. But the push to heat millions of homes using hydrogen boilers instead could scupper that target and speed up global warming, a new academic paper suggests.

The peer-reviewed study suggests that even hydrogen produced using allegedly low-emission methods can be more polluting than gas or coal.

The study will be published in the journal Energy Science and Engineering today and comes after reports the Government was already backing away from this ban due to concerns over what it will cost householders.

Hydrogen does not produce C02 emissions when burned, and so is being touted as a replacement for fossil fuels in many industries.

But at present the fuel is most commonly produced by extracting it from natural gas, which can leak methane into the environment.

The paper warns that current technology – which stores greenhouse gas and generates what is known as blue hydrogen – is not efficient enough.

It states: “Perhaps surprisingly, the greenhouse gas footprint of blue hydrogen is more than 20 percent greater than burning natural gas or coal for heat and some 60 percent greater than burning diesel oil for heat.

“Our analysis assumes that captured carbon dioxide can be stored indefinitely, an optimistic and unproven assumption. Even if true though, the use of blue hydrogen appears difficult to justify on climate grounds.”

The study was led by Professor Robert Howarth at Cornell University and received funding from the Park Foundation in the US.

Academics are hoping this can improve in future developments on blue hydrogen.

Jon Gibbins, a professor at the University of Sheffield and director of the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre, told the Telegraph: “If they wanted to get to a Net-Zero blue hydrogen destination, no sensible engineer would start out from where this paper suggests that you should.”

The paper is likely to spark fierce debate.

Many activists have already raised concerns that oil and gas companies are promoting blue hydrogen in order to prolong the life of their gas business.

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The Climate Change Committee, which advises the Government, has done analysis suggesting that blue hydrogen can save up to 85 recent of emissions compared to fossil fuels/

A government spokesman said: “Independent reports, including that from the Climate Change Committee, show that a combination of blue and green hydrogen is consistent with reaching net zero.

“Alongside the strategy, we will consult on a new UK standard for low carbon hydrogen production to ensure the technologies we support make a real contribution to our goals.”

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