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Green hydrogen is not the best path to domestic decarbonisation

A new study demonstrates why more energy-efficient and electrified buildings is the quickest way to decarbonise while strengthening Europe’s economy.

By Energy Monitor Staff

The best way to decarbonise domestic heating is through energy efficiency and electrification, not green hydrogen, concludes a report published on 14 March by consultancy Cambridge Econometrics and the European Alliance to Save Energy, a cross-sectoral energy efficiency coalition.

As well as being the fastest way to decarbonise, this could cut heating bills by 50% and reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions by 90%. It could also create 1.2 million net additional jobs in construction in the EU 27 and UK, and increase GDP by 1%. It could cut Europe’s spend on gas imports by €43bn a year by 2050.

The Ukraine crisis has reinforced attention on energy efficiency as a way to increase energy security.

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Recently constructed show homes are illuminated for potential buyers on a new housing estate in Knutsford, Cheshire, UK. (Photo by Christopher Furlong via Getty Images)

“I think a second round of financing [following the EU’s Covid recovery fund] from the European Commission [for building renovation] is up for grabs,” said Ciarán Cuffe, the Irish MEP leading negotiations on a revised EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive at the report’s launch.

The study modelled high and low energy efficiency scenarios, and business-as-usual, green hydrogen, electrification and mixed energy supplies for buildings. Solar thermal and heat pump technologies emerged as the cheapest heating technologies for households in the next decade.

A high-efficiency, high-green hydrogen scenario produced double the N2) emissions and slower carbon emissions reductions compared with a high-electrification scenario.

Heating and cooling represent half of Europe’s final energy consumption and 80% of it is currently fuelled by natural gas. The study predicts a 70% reduction in energy demand in a high-efficiency and high-electrification scenario.

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