The UK government should prioritise expanding existing low-carbon heating solutions – including heat pumps, energy efficiency improvements and heat networks – to rapidly cut home heating emissions, a new report concludes.
Hydrogen infrastructure is not going to be viable for domestic heating at scale for at least the next decade, says a briefing paper produced by independent experts from Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Lab.
Homes are responsible for approximately 23% of the UK’s carbon emissions, with gas boilers a major contributor, but replacing the gas network with hydrogen infrastructure would be a more expensive solution than installing heat pumps and could lead to a long delay in tackling emissions, the researchers say.
As seen in Germany, France and Italy over the past decade, making the existing housing stock more efficient, green financing and long-term grants to increase the roll-out of heat pumps would stimulate market growth and create tens of thousands of new jobs, the report finds.
The experts recommend establishing a consumer-facing heat pump council and a national heat pump research, testing and training facility. They conclude that hydrogen should be left for sectors that are hard to electrify such as shipping and aviation, and used for heating only where production is located close to industrial clusters.