Decarbonising the UK’s gas networks could play an important role in achieving the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.
That’s according to a new report from Imperial College London’s Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI), which says the existing natural gas system will need to be replaced with a greener solution if the UK is to effectively decarbonise.
Although this role could be taken over by electricity storage, the SGI suggests green gas storage would likely prove a better option.
They believe this would have the advantage of repurposing the valuable assets such as gas pipes that are already in place and would match up with the preferences of consumers, who generally like using gas appliances.
The group adds technical issues need to be explored before the costs of such a system conversion could be accurately calculated but claims low carbon gas can be relatively easily and inexpensively stored.
This gives it the benefit of increased flexibility over electric alternatives which the SGI says are more technically challenging.
The researchers estimate biomethane might cost around 8.1 pence per kilowatt hour (p/kWh) on average, with hydrogen predicted to cost slightly more at an average of 9.3p/kWh.
To compare this to current energy systems, in 2015 the equivalent EU price for electricity was 17p/kWh and the average EU natural gas retail price was 5.4 p/kWh.
Dr Paul Balcombe, a Co-Author in the SGI, said: “The timeframe for the potential conversion of the gas network could be in the late 2020s.
“Decarbonised gas will be most useful to domestic consumers in urban environments with dense populations who have limited amounts of space to use other low carbon options.”