The climate crisis is real, there is no denying this. This in mind, governments are placing increasing pressure on industries around the world, to reduce carbon emissions and move to more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable means in our day to day lives.
For the heating industry, that means moving away from the use of fossil fuels such as gas and oil to more sustainable energy sources with electricity being the current go to source of energy to heat our homes
Government legislation states that new homes must use a heating source alternative to natural gas. But what do these sources look like? And, how feasible are they right now?
What is Hydrogen?
Hydrogen is a clean alternative to methane, also known as natural gas. It’s the most abundant chemical element, estimated to contribute 75% of the mass of the universe. – National Grid*
What makes Hydrogen a desirable alternative to fossil fuels?
When we use gas as energy, we burn the gas to create heat energy and warm our homes. However, this creates carbon dioxide – emissions that are released into the environment contributing to what we know as climate change.
Hydrogen can also be burnt to produce heat energy, but rather than creating carbon dioxide, burning hydrogen creates only water vapour.
What progress has been made with hydrogen for heating?
The government and industry regulators have been and continue to explore the feasibility of introducing hydrogen into the gas network.
Not much is known in the public domain about the potential of hydrogen gas as a fuel source for heating our homes. In reality, it offers a much less intrusive transition than other heating options such as air source heat pumps and electric charging.
Keele University have already completed a pilot project mixing hydrogen with natural gas.
Most modern existing heating systems and boilers can function with a mix of 20% hydrogen and 80% natural gas without the need for retrofitting or upgrade. This would result in an immediate reduction of 20% of carbon emissions.
There is currently a small group of houses in Scotland running off pure hydrogen. However, sizeable interventions would be needed by government, industry, and homeowners to take this beyond a few houses (more on that later).
Talk has been had discussing a commencement of a shift to 20% hydrogen by 2030.
Manufacturers such as Airbus are spearheading this development with significant milestones set at 2030 and 2050. More on this can be read at: https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/stories/hydrogen-aviation-understanding-challenges-to-widespread-adoption.html
In part 2 of this blog, I’ll discuss the challenges presented transitioning to hydrogen along with some possible solutions and some hints on the future of hydrogen as a viable source of sustainable fuel.