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The role of hydrogen in reaching Net Zero

Alex Taylor, Head of Policy at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said:We welcome the Common’s Science and Technology committee’s report on the role of hydrogen in reaching Net Zero, and we agree with the report’s general conclusion – while hydrogen is not a ‘panacea’, it may play a critical role in decarbonising some specific sectors.

“We’re pleased that the Committee’s report recognises the difficulty in using hydrogen for heating homes. Our report UK renewables – limitless energy or precious resource? shows that the UK needs at least a four-fold increase in its low-carbon power generation by 2050 to meet electricity demand.

This projection rises to a six-fold increase if hydrogen boilers – which are only one-third as efficient as heat pumps – are rolled out nationally without additional efficiency measures.

In other words, hydrogen for heating homes will put tremendous pressure on the UK’s green energy supply.

“Our collaborative research with the Future Power System Architecture group underscores the need for a ‘whole systems’ approach to anticipating and meeting future energy demand – this includes a real focus on efficiency.

Our upcoming report ‘Decarbonising the Built Environment’ agrees that heat pumps and district heat networks are the main solutions to decarbonising the UK’s domestic heating supply, with hydrogen reserved for more valuable industrial uses. Therefore, we share the Committee’s concern about the government’s recent announcement to mandate that all boilers are ‘hydrogen-ready’ by 2026.

“We are also pleased that the Committee has recognised our research into Hydrogen for Road Transport, which identifies three key factors for enabling the uptake of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles – 1) consumer choice, 2) zero hydrogen production, and 3) storage and distribution.

While unlikely to capture a significant fraction of the domestic market, hydrogen fuel may become the leading option for heavier, fleet-type vehicles such as emergency services and buses.

“However, significant government funding support is required for hydrogen to evolve into a viable and sustainable transport fuel – this should be targeted at early, innovative low carbon hydrogen production projects, which are unlikely to obtain funding through traditional methods.”  


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