Report calls on UK Government to embrace power to gas

A new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) calls on the UK government to put in place measures to support the growth of power to gas storage technologies, and suggests a series of policies that could help to achieve.

The report, entitled Energy from gas: taking a whole system approach, makes three key recommendations to the UK government:  create a forum to promote the benefits of hydrogen generation and storage for the UK energy system; work with the gas industry to increase the level of hydrogen used in the gas system; and finally to commission a long-term comparative study of the life cycle and sustainability of lithium-ion versus power to gas technology.

“The Institution of Mechanical Engineers encourages policy-makers and industry to look at longer-term planning for energy storage and wider successful use of energy vectors across the system,” states the report. “Gas produced from renewable sources, including electrolysis for hydrogen and anaerobic digestion/landfill gas for biomethane, along with other gasification techniques, provides us with more flexible options not only for storage, but as fuels for heat and vehicles.”

The report’s authors note that the existing gas grid in the UK can be used to store hydrogen and biomethane, and that natural gas could be seen as a ‘transition fuel’ as technologies to create these are improved and ramped up.

“The Committee on Climate Change, National Grid, the Sustainable Gas Institute and KPMG all agree that gas is not likely to disappear,” continues the report. “much of our decarbonisation is likely to come from switching from oil in the transport system to gas-generated electricity.”

While touted by many as the ‘fuel of the future’, hydrogen production has struggled to keep up with the falling costs of lithium-ion and other storage technologies. The authors of the IME report argue that the advantages of power to gas are too numerous to ignore, and that better support for the technology is required.

“Government and industry need to step up efforts to provide funding programmes and demonstration sites to encourage the greater use of hydrogen as energy storage,” said Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and lead author of the report. “The UK has a strong track record of being at the cutting edge of new energy developments, and this could present the country with a chance to be a world leader in power-to-gas and hydrogen technology.”