Hydrogen-based heating: UK research raises questions

Posted: October 15, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, hydrogen, net zero, research
Tags: ,

Credit: mygridgb.co.uk

Questions such as: why bother? If it’s three times the cost of natural gas and it’s not technically possible to produce it at large scale from renewables, in what way does it make any sense, even to committed climate alarmists?
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Using hydrogen instead of natural gas for heating could help the UK to achieve net carbon-neutrality by 2050, according to new Imperial research, reports TechXplore.

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.

Hydrogen has long been hailed as a clean alternative to natural gas. It produces only water when consumed, and it can be distributed through existing infrastructure such as pipelines with minimal adjustments.

Yet there is little understanding of the various requirements of this transition, including its cost.

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.

The researchers say that rolling out a national hydrogen infrastructure can be fast-tracked using a form of hydrogen that is cheaper but non-renewable alongside carbon capture and storage while we develop cost-effective renewable-hydrogen options.

This form of hydrogen is derived from methane and biomass, which produce some greenhouse gasses, but is cheaper than renewable hydrogen, which requires splitting water using renewable energy sources like wind or solar power.

Alternatively, renewable hydrogen could be combined with existing electric heating capabilities to meet this same goal.

Full report here.

Study: What is needed to deliver carbon-neutral heat using hydrogen and CCS?
[From the journal: Energy & Environmental Science]

  1. tallbloke says:

    “This form of hydrogen is derived from methane…”

    Inefficiently using natgas supplies to produce a much more dangerous flammable gas to pump through pipelines not designed for it at three times the cost and producing more CO2 than just using the natgas directly.

    Bonkers cubed.

  2. oldbrew says:

    TB: the CO2 would be removed by CCS, so bonkers cubed * 2.

  3. Dave Ward says:

    ” To pump through pipelines not designed for it at three times the cost”

    And at only a third of the calorific value…

  4. There is good evidence that some natural gas (CH4) is abiotic and being formed continuously. The statement that it is non-renewable is likely to be wrong or exaggerated as much of what comes from socialists with a political agenda who have no idea of technology.

  5. Graeme No.3 says:

    Turning methane into hydrogen (theoretically) releases 84.6% CO2 to obtain 15.4% hydrogen.
    Seems a very inefficient way of obtaining heat. Why not burn the methane obtaining more heat so less is needed (and less CO2 results). Avoids the cost of replacing pipes and boilers etc. let alone the incredible expense of ‘carbon capture’.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Carbon capture would also have to use ‘clean’ electricity to qualify as acceptable to the carbophobes. It just gets ever more ridiculous, for no observable benefit.

  7. stpaulchuck says:

    the Piltdown Man and the Nigerian Prince were amateur hour scams compared to this Satanic Gases.

  8. JB says:

    “It is my fate to be always plagued with fools.”–Thomas Paine

    A fool cannot be protected from his folly. He will allow himself to be repeatedly swindled.–Robert Heinlein

  9. cognog2 says:

    To me this plethora of nonsense goes back to our abysmal educational system which has manifestly failed to teach basic thermodynamics to its students. As a result we now have apparently well educated people, no doubt with intelligence, totally ignorant on any matters concerning energy or associated policies.
    All very frustrating for those who do know. 🤯

  10. Bob Greene says:

    Leaking of tiny molecules like hydrogen is always a concern as is hydrogen embrittlement. Energy density also doesn’t seem to be mentioned. Why spend the time, energy, money to convert natural gas methane to hydrogen with the carbon going to CO2 to end up in the same place at a higher cost.

  11. oldbrew says:

    Bob G — the report claims so-called ‘carbon capture’ of CO2 would be used, but there are very few working examples of this due (partly at least) to high costs and lack of actual sites.

    So CCS is yet another problem they think they are going to ‘fix’, like the weight/cost/range of EV batteries, shortages of rare earth minerals, biomass land usage, intermittency and non-recyclability of renewables, non-existent grid-scale electricity storage, and on and on…

    The prospective battle for mineral and other resources will likely push the costs up even further.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Loads more Qatari gas on the way to the UK from 2025…

    National Grid signs 25-year contract for Grain LNG terminal !
    October 14th, 2020

    The agreement marks the conclusion of Grain LNG’s competitive “Open Season” process, kicked off in November 2019, and secures the future of Europe’s largest LNG import terminal.
    . . .
    Grain LNG, located on the Isle of Grain in Kent, is currently able to store and deliver enough gas to meet at least 25% of UK gas demand. The UK has recently benefited from a rise in LNG imports, which have contributed to lower wholesale gas prices by increasing ‘gas-on-gas’ competition.

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    So gas bills should be going down, ha ha.