The future for home heating

Yesterday (27th January 2022 saw the launch of a new report weighing up the relative merits of hydrogen and heat pumps for domestic heating.  The report was produced by the Imperial College Energy Futures Lab.  It concludes that while hydrogen will have a role in decarbonising some industrial process it is not appropriate for domestic heating. 

The research finds that hydrogen infrastructure is not going to be viable for domestic heating applications at scale for at least the next 10 years and therefore, the Government should focus on deploying solutions which are available now including energy efficiency, electrification through heat pumps and heat networks as the main focus for its strategy. 

Richard Hanna one of the reports authors says:

… hydrogen has potential to help decarbonize challenging sectors like industry and shipping but right now there is not a strong case for using it to here in our homes. In the near-term government should focus efforts on improving heat pump products and their affordability and supporting industry to rapidly scale up production of technology in the UK

Scot.E3 argues that current UK and Scottish government support hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas is deeply misguided and is unlikely to be effective in cutting carbon emissions.  This really matters since domestic heating is responsible for around 23% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.  The UK is currently very dependent on the use of natural gas for domestic heating.  Around 85% of homes use gas. One consequence of this heavy dependence is the ratchetting up of levels of fuel poverty because of the massive hike in gas prices that has occurred over the last few months.  

The report is well worth reading and includes a really useful and extensive list of links to further reading.  Butven if you don’t have time to read the report in full, do read the policy recommendations.  These highlight the need for public sector procurement, for planning, for rapidly increasing the rate of heat pump installation starting from now and critically for immediate investment in training to create a skilled workforce able to carry out this work.

This is the video of the meeting at which the report was launched.

Trask, A., Hanna, R. and Rhodes, A. The Future of Home Heating: the Roles of Heat Pumps and Hydrogen, An Energy Futures Lab Briefing Paper, Imperial College London Consultants. Available at: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/energy-futures-lab/reports/ briefing-papers/paper-8/