Hydrogen-based heating: UK research raises questions

Credit: mygridgb.co.uk

Questions such as: why bother? If it’s three times the cost of natural gas and it’s not technically possible to produce it at large scale from renewables, in what way does it make any sense, even to committed climate alarmists?
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Using hydrogen instead of natural gas for heating could help the UK to achieve net carbon-neutrality by 2050, according to new Imperial research, reports TechXplore.

Currently, non-renewable natural gas from fossil fuels is used to supply half of Europe’s heat demand, with national shares as high as 80 percent in the Netherlands and the UK.

However, the UK has committed to developing an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and one of the ways to achieve this might involve switching natural gas for hydrogen.

Hydrogen has long been hailed as a clean alternative to natural gas. It produces only water when consumed, and it can be distributed through existing infrastructure such as pipelines with minimal adjustments.

Yet there is little understanding of the various requirements of this transition, including its cost.

A new Imperial College London study has now, for the first time, laid out a comprehensive assessment of how the UK could convert its national heating network from using natural gas to hydrogen.

The paper, published in Energy & Environmental Science, provides a detailed roadmap in setting out the “what,” the “where,” and the “when” of transitioning.

The research found that transitioning from natural gas to hydrogen for heating could help the UK to reach 2050 targets, but that setting up and running hydrogen-based heating may cost as much as three times that of natural gas.

A key conclusion of this work is that whilst the transition to a hydrogen-based heating system is technically feasible today on the basis of commercially available technologies, there remains an important role for the government to act as market maker to enable this transition.

The researchers say that rolling out a national hydrogen infrastructure can be fast-tracked using a form of hydrogen that is cheaper but non-renewable alongside carbon capture and storage while we develop cost-effective renewable-hydrogen options.

This form of hydrogen is derived from methane and biomass, which produce some greenhouse gasses, but is cheaper than renewable hydrogen, which requires splitting water using renewable energy sources like wind or solar power.

Alternatively, renewable hydrogen could be combined with existing electric heating capabilities to meet this same goal.

Full report here.

Study: What is needed to deliver carbon-neutral heat using hydrogen and CCS?
[From the journal: Energy & Environmental Science]

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October 15, 2020 at 04:06AM

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