The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has suggested the UK should explore hydrogen heating for homes and industry.
In a report published today, it is calling on the government to develop a low carbon heat strategy within the next three years to encourage commercial investment in producing hydrogen.
Decarbonising heat is a ‘major challenge’
Chief Executive Lawrence Slade added: “It may well be that there isn’t a one size fits all solution for all homes and businesses so it is important to explore the various options. That’s why we have been calling for the government to fund large scale trials to assess the various options and inform the big decisions that will need to be made on heating in the near future.
“If we are to start rolling out low carbon heating systems in the next couple of decades, the government needs to focus its attention and resources on this challenge without delay.
Whole energy system needs ‘strategic direction’
A spokesperson from the Energy Networks Association (ENA) said: “Hydrogen offers enormous potential to decarbonise our energy system in the most cost-effective way and the gas networks are already developing technical and strategic solutions for hydrogen-ready grids for homes and businesses.
“But the government must provide the right strategic direction, not only for decarbonising heat but for the whole energy system. With this, the gas networks can optimise network investment, including into existing infrastructure and pipes and operational decisions for the future.”
Hydrogen plays important role in decarbonising energy system
Tim Rotheray, Director of the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) added: “Hydrogen has a key role to play in decarbonising the most challenging parts of the energy system – meeting peak heat demands on cold days, enabling process industries to fully decarbonise and cleaning up heavy transport – but we need to ensure we use it sparingly to ensure a cost-effective low carbon transition.
“Today’s report highlights that energy for heating in particular needs to be a mix, with ambitious energy efficiency, heat networks in towns and cities and hybrid hydrogen heat pumps.”
Urgency doesn’t go far enough
Clean energy solutions company Erda Energy believes “big questions” still remain about hydrogen’s feasibility at scale.
Managing Director Kevin Stickney said: “The CCC ha s done a good job on the report in many respects: They’ve taken a balanced view on the roles of electrification and hydrogen and reaffirmed the urgency of decarbonising heat.
“But that urgency doesn’t go far enough. At best, hydrogen is a technology for the future – and there are still big questions about its feasibility at scale, especially south of the Midlands where natural CCS sites are sparse. By contrast, we have the technology to electrify heat now. Air and ground source heat technologies such as geo-exchange are mature and proven at scale. The CCC is confident they’ll have a big role to play even in a high-hydrogen scenario – so what are we waiting for? Climate change isn’t waiting. The industry needs support now.”