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MP for Leeds West Rachel Reeves has paid a visit to Northern Gas Networks, to learn more about the gas distributer’s pioneering H21 hydrogen project.

The UK government launched its Clean Growth strategy in October, with hydrogen named as one of three plausible pathways for the country to reach its 2050 Climate Change Act objectives.

Based on a blueprint for the city of Leeds, NGN’s H21 feasibility study was launched in 2016, and showed it is technically possible and economically viable to convert the UK gas network to 100% hydrogen, at a realistic cost and with minimal disruption to customers.

Hydrogen when burned produces only heat and water, making it a zero carbon energy source at the point of use.

As chair of the cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Ms Reeves was keen to explore H21 further by meeting Programme Director Dan Sadler and CEO Mark Horsley at NGN’s Thorpe Park head office.

With transport a key cog in the decarbonisation wheel, the Labour MP was also treated to a demonstration of NGN’s Toyota Mirai hydrogen car.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves takes a look at the hydrogen powered Toyota Mirai, with NGN’s H21 Programme Director & Head of Hydrogen Technologies Dan Sadler.

Ms Reeves said: “It’s vital that we invest in new technologies to help create decent, well-paid jobs and grow our economy.

“I’m glad to see businesses in Leeds like Northern Gas Networks at the cutting edge and working towards a low carbon future.

“Its innovative H21 project shows how the private sector can lead the way in helping reach our 2050 emission reduction targets.

“It is crucial the government backs business with an industrial strategy that has a plan to create jobs and foster investment across the country at its heart.”

Currently over 80% of the UK uses gas for heating and cooking, with 30% of the UK’s total carbon emissions generated by heat.

H21 has shown that a UK-wide conversion to 100% hydrogen would reduce heat emissions by 73%.

H21 Programme Director and Head of Hydrogen Technologies, Dan Sadler said: “The H21 project was born in Leeds and based in Leeds, but its scope ultimately involves the entire country.

“Hydrogen can play a key role in helping the UK meet the challenges of the Climate Change Act: reducing 1990 carbon levels by 80% by the year 2050.

“Our future energy system will need a mix of different options to reach that target – gas, electric, renewables – and H21 has shown a UK-wide conversion to hydrogen will reduce heat emissions by a minimum of 73% and also support decarbonisation of transport and localised electrical generation.”

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24-hours a day, seven days a week.