Electricity in the form of hydrogen can be stored in UK gas grids for a greater amount of time than even batteries, making the energy system greener, more efficient and complement growth of renewables sector, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said Wednesday.
The IME, in its report, said excess electricity produced during strong renewables generation or low demand can be used to create hydrogen through electrolysis and stored in the gas grid as hydrogen can travel in existing distribution networks at different percentages.
"Gas networks can act as a lung for low carbon electricity networks, absorbing surplus renewables when required via power to gas, and delivering gas for power generation when required to cover periods of lie renewables availability," the report said.
Power-to-gas is the process of using electricity to create gas, usually in the form of hydrogen. This hydrogen is electrolyzed from water and is energy that can be used across all sectors of the energy system.
Hydrogen can be stored for a matter of minutes, days, weeks or months, making it a more valuable medium than the battery, the report said, with the added benefit of being potentially much less damaging to the wider environment than lithium ion batteries.
For this power-to-gas technology and hydrogen into the grid to work, the IME urges government to provide support to change pipes and materials to allow excess electricity, in the form of hydrogen, to be stored in the gas grid.
The IME called for the UK government to work with the natural gas industry to promote the use of up to 20% hydrogen in the gas distribution network including change in pipes and materials by 2023.
It urged the government to promote the generation and storage of hydrogen for use in heat, transport, power generation and heavy industries. It also asked the UK to commission a comprehensive comparative study of the long-term sustainability of materials used to create lithium ion EV batteries versus power-to-gas/gas systems and fuel cells.
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