As the UK faces a climate emergency, it is imperative to find cleaner and more energy-efficient ways to heat our homes. Currently, a quarter of all energy consumption in the UK is used for heating homes and water. Sadly, about 85% of these homes use natural gas, a fossil fuel that generates pollution, including carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. Therefore, there is a need to find cleaner, greener alternatives to natural gas. One promising solution is hydrogen.
Hydrogen: An Old Idea with a New Purpose
Believe it or not, heating homes with hydrogen is not a new idea. In fact, British households were already using hydrogen mixtures for heating until the 1970s, when natural gas was discovered in large quantities under the North Sea, and gas pipelines were constructed across the UK. Before that, we used ‘town gas,’ which contained up to 60% hydrogen.
Now, hydrogen is making a comeback, but what exactly is it, and why is it better than natural gas?
Hydrogen: A Clean and Safe Gas
Hydrogen is a non-toxic and flammable gas that can be burned to produce heat. Crucially, when hydrogen is burned, the only byproduct is water, meaning it does not emit any carbon emissions. However, hydrogen is not as easy to access as natural gas because it cannot be extracted from the ground. Instead, it must be manufactured.
The Color-Coded Hydrogen Production
There are various methods of producing hydrogen, some more environmentally friendly than others. While the end product is always the same, the method of production determines its name.
Black hydrogen is produced from coal, in a process that emits carbon dioxide. It is the least environmentally friendly method of hydrogen production.
Blue hydrogen, on the other hand, is produced from natural gas, but the carbon dioxide produced is captured and stored underground, so it does not harm the atmosphere.
The most environmentally friendly form of hydrogen is green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable electricity, often sourced from wind turbines, to create hydrogen out of water in an electrolyser – a carbon-neutral process.
A Promising Future for Hydrogen Heating
The concept of using hydrogen to heat homes is not a far-fetched idea for the future. In fact, trials of hydrogen mixtures are already happening in the UK, and there are plans for 100% hydrogen trials by the end of the decade.
With the UK’s drive for clean energy and the need for more sustainable heating solutions, hydrogen is poised to revolutionize the way we heat our homes, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.