Ok so we hear a lot about Hydrogen being used to heat our homes. On the surface this looks like a great idea, after all we all like gas (except the CO2 of course) it’s cheap, comfortable & controllable. Also we have the existing gas network we could use… maybe. Another great advantage is there would be some storage built into the network so we could make the hydrogen when renewables were plentiful.
Hydrogen is a funny old gas and it can cause real problems with some of the plastics and metals used in the current infrastructure. Methane (mains gas) also contains about 3 times the energy per cubic meter compared to hydrogen, this means we will have to pump 3 time as much hydrogen through the network to get the same heat output. Also your current boiler and cooker can’t burn hydrogen, they will need replaced or heavily modified. So all in all, virtually every part of the gas network will have to be replaced, strengthened, upgrades or modified, this isn’t looking as straightforward as we thought….
The real killer however for hydrogen is how much energy it takes to generate hydrogen in the first place. 1kWh of electricity only generates 0.7kWh of Hydrogen. Even if we ignore how much energy is used to compress and store the Hydrogen it still means we need to generate 17,143 kWh of renewables to heat the average home. To put this in perspective domestic consumers (that’s you and me) use about 40% of all the electricity generated in the UK today, on average each home uses 3,100kWh of electricity. Oh and there’s another problem, we use most of our heating during the winter, if we used hydrogen we would need 10 times the current electricity generation to heat our homes. Oh dear it’s not looking good for Hydrogen.