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After a recent report shows over half the homes in Leeds won’t be suitable for heat pumps, the region’s gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) is giving local energy customers the opportunity to be part of the solution by investing in its first Green Transition Bond to prepare the network for low carbon hydrogen heating in the transition to a Net Zero future.

The use of natural gas for home heating and cooking contributes to one third of the UK’s carbon emissions, so the way the 85% of homes connected to the gas network fuel their homes needs to change.

The report by the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) reveals that up to 54% of homes in Leeds will be unsuitable for the installation of a heat pump due to a lack of exterior space (to locate the pump) and the requirement for building insulation to ensure the pump can meet the heating space requirements.

The report concluded that a mix of solutions will be essential to meeting the complex challenge of Net Zero, including a decarbonised gas network.

Unlike the natural gas currently transported through the UK’s gas network, hydrogen produces no carbon when burned, making it a viable green fuel for homes and industry to meet the government’s target of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The bond, which has already raised three quarters of its £1 million target, will be used towards funding NGN’s gas network upgrade completed in preparation for transporting hydrogen in the future.

NGN is the first regulated company to give the public the opportunity to invest in its exciting work to decarbonise the gas network.

Melanie Taylor, Head of Stakeholder Relations explains “We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to be involved. During our regular conversations with our customers, they told us they wanted to be part of the Net Zero transition and to be able to benefit financially from our work.

“Our programme to upgrade the gas pipes from metallic to polyethylene enables the hydrogen gas conversion. Now anyone can invest in that programme, and their own community, through our Green Transition Bond.”

As part of NGN’s plans to transition its network to net zero, three quarters of the region’s underground pipework has already been upgraded from metallic to polyethylene. The £1 million raised through the Green Transition Bond will contribute towards the upgrade of a further 2,900 km of pipes before 2026.

NGN currently delivers gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses in the North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire and Humber. Later this year NGN will be demonstrating a blend of hydrogen and natural gas – supplying 670 homes in this way for 10 months, subject to approval from the Health and Safety Executive. NGN is planning their first live trials of 100% hydrogen to take place in an unoccupied section of their network later this summer.

Since 2013 NGN has reduced the volume of gas escaping from its network by over 25%. Over the next five years, it aims to reduce total emissions due to leakage by another 24%, saving over 900,000 tonnes of CO2 in total, equal to the carbon emissions of over 250,000 homes.

NGN has teamed up with Abundance, the UK’s leading ethical investment crowdfunding platform, to launch the bond.

Bruce Davis, co-founder and Managing Director at Abundance, said: “Abundance’s customers want to back a range of solutions to deliver a Net Zero future, and this is the first time we’ve been able to offer them something that directly tackles heating in the home. It’s also the first time we’ve worked with a major utility which has chosen crowdfunding to enable their customers to participate directly in the Net Zero transition.

“The development of hydrogen, alongside other technologies like heat pumps, offers a practical solution that will make a real difference to cutting emissions. The UK needs urgent investment in the infrastructure that can deliver this if we are going to meet our targets to decarbonise how we heat our homes.”

The investment, in Northern Gas Networks’ Finance Plc, seeks to raise £1 million through a lower-risk, long term investment with returns of 1.6% per annum over a 10-year term. As with all Abundance products, the minimum investment is just £5. To find out more and download an offer document, please visit www.abundanceinvestment.com/northern-gas-networks