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.
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.