Updated Jan 28, 2022

Focus on heat pumps over hydrogen

A new research report from the Imperial College London Energy Futures Lab suggests that the government should focus on heat pump installations instead of hydrogen in the challenge to decarbonise home heating.

They state that it should be the government's priority to focus their efforts on installing heat pumps and boosting energy efficiency, and suggests the governments target for 600,000 heat pumps installed annually by 2028 should be feasible.

The report stresses that there are obstacles to the drive towards widespread heat pump use, these include a low consumer awareness of heat pumps and the fact that they are currently expensive to install.

But they do suggest that skills and knowledge from existing technologies, including boilers and air conditioners, should be used to enable the manufacturers to increase their production.

The use of hydrogen is also discussed in the report, and the researchers believe that hydrogen as an energy source in the gas grid would only be feasible from the early to mid-2030s. They anticipate that due to the difference between natural gas and hydrogen, that certain sections of the existing gas grid would need to be retrofitted in order for hydrogen to be delivered safely into homes.

They also commented on the safety concerns relating to the use of hydrogen which would need to be addressed before any widespread adoption of its use could take place.

A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), commented on the reports findings: "We need a mix of new, low carbon heating solutions for different property types in different parts of the country – such as heat networks, electric heat pumps and potentially hydrogen. Electric heat pumps will have a key role to play, which is why we are incentivising their deployment through measures such as the £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme.  Alongside this, we are supporting further work to explore the option of hydrogen for heating buildings and will take decisions on this in 2026."