In a report on the UK’s net zero needs, the National Infrastructure Commission says there is “no public policy case” for hydrogen to be used to heat individual homes or other buildings.
In its second National Infrastructure Assessment, a five-yearly review, the commission makes a series of recommendations to transform the country’s energy, transport and other key networks over the next 30 years and make it fit for 2050.
Notably, the NIC finds that “a system with hydrogen heating would be around 1.2 times more expensive than a system without.”
The assessment recommends that the government rule out supporting the use of hydrogen for heating in these cases, instead favouring electrification. It points to using electricity to power heat pumps, outlining that the running costs would be cheaper than a hydrogen boiler.
The NIC also explains that the complexity of converting the gas network and homes to hydrogen is another point against the use of clean fuel.
The report makes clear that fossil fuel heating should be “phased out” and that the government should “focus solely on electrification.”
Writing in the report’s foreword, Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “The good news is that modern, reliable infrastructure can support economic growth, help tackle climate change and enhance the natural environment.
“We stand at a pivotal moment in time, with the opportunity to make a major difference to this country’s future. But we need to get on with it.
“People often talk about infrastructure as the backbone of our economy: what our infrastructure needs now is the collective mettle to turn commitments into action that will reap rewards for decades to come.”
CCS and Hydrogen
The report also dives into carbon transport and storage with the NIC saying new networks will need to be up and running “well before 2035” for the storage and transmission of hydrogen and carbon.
The assessment proposes encouraging the private sector to build these networks and storage sites.
The document outlines: “Government should commit to the development of a carbon transmission pipeline and storage network that can transport and store at least 50MtCO2e per year by 2035.”
The NIC has produced a map showing core pipeline networks for hydrogen and carbon throughout the UK with industrial hubs such as Grangemouth and Teeside being highlighted.
The report says that its proposed core network should connect Grangemouth and north-east Scotland, Teesside, Humberside, Merseyside, the Peak District and Southampton.
The Commission says that a hydrogen network should run through the same areas.
Crucially, it also warns there is “no time to lose”.
“While meeting the UK’s economic infrastructure needs will incur significant, if manageable, costs, the costs of inaction would almost certainly be greater,” the authors note.