Hydrogen is unlikely to be the golden ticket to decarbonisation heat in buildings

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Hydrogen has been hyped for heat for meeting the UK’s zero carbon target. 

It has a major impact on the need, or otherwise, for new-build and retrofit energy efficiency improvements or electric heat pumps. Why enhance our buildings if our current natural gas can be simply switched to zero-carbon hydrogen?   

LETI has investigated if hydrogen is likely to come via the repurposed gas grid. LETI’s neutral approach has allowed them to navigate through the mass of vested interests to gain a more realistic insight of its potential for heat in buildings. LETIs paper concludes that when considered holistically, it seems unlikely that zero carbon hydrogen supplied via a re-purposed gas mains network will be available, for the vast majority of buildings, for the foreseeable future.

Is Hydrogen zero carbon? Hydrogen is an energy carrier, the carbon associated with it depends on how the hydrogen is produced. ‘Green’ hydrogen from renewable power electrolysis is zero emissions. However, the UK gas supply industry advocates ‘Blue’ hydrogen manufactured from methane with carbon capture of its high emissions using yet to be proven at scale carbon capture and storage technology.

This LETI document acts as a concise primer for those seeking clarity on the likelihood of hydrogen for buildings becoming a means of heat delivery for buildings via the gas pipe network. It is based on an extensive review of published documents from a broad range of viewpoints. For those who wish to dig further, an extensive reference list is included.  

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