The following is an abstract from a paper published in Applied Energy Volume 353. The paper, Caveats of green hydrogen for decarbonisation of heating in buildings, is co-authored by PNDC’s hydrogen specialist, Dr Arash Badakhsh, and lead R&D engineer, Dr Sivapriya (Priya) Mothilal Bhagavathy.


Hydrogen (H2) has rapidly become a topic of great attention when discussing routes to net-zero carbon emissions. About 14% of CO2 emissions globally are directly associated with domestic heating in buildings. Replacing natural gas (NG) with H2 for heating has been highlighted as a rapid alternative for mitigating these emissions. To realise this, not only the production challenges but also potential obstacles in the transmission/distribution and combustion of H2 must be technically identified and discussed. This review, in addition to delineating the challenges of H2 in NG grid pipelines and H2 combustion, also collates the results of the state-of-the-art technologies in H2-based heating systems. We conclude that the sustainability of water and renewable electricity resources strongly depends on sizing, siting, service life of electrolysis plants, and post-electrolysis water disposal plans. 100% H2 in pipelines requires major infrastructure upgrades including production, transmission, pressure-reduction stations, distribution, and boiler rooms. H2 leakage instigates more environmental risks than economic ones. With optimised boilers, burning H2 could reduce GHG emissions and obtain an appropriate heating efficiency; more data from boiler manufacturers must be provided. Overall, green H2 is not the only solution to decarbonise heating in buildings, and it should be pursued abreast of other heating technologies.

The study was supported by the Low Carbon Challenge Fund: Translating Hydrogen into Action, funded by the European Commission’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The authors also gratefully acknowledge the support of PNDC colleague, Dr Callum Rae.

Graphical abstract of green hydrogen plant, pipeline, and hydrogen boiler in buildings

Read the full paper – Caveats of green hydrogen for decarbonisation of heating in buildings.