Recent findings indicate that using hydrogen-based heat pumps for heating UK homes could significantly lower the carbon emissions of global energy systems.
This study, conducted by the University of Sheffield's Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre, is possibly the first to examine hydrogen as a heat pump energy source. The team compared hydrogen-source heat pumps with those using air, ground, and water sources. Their research highlights that hydrogen heat pumps, powered by green hydrogen from renewable sources rather than grid electricity, are a viable option for the UK. Such technology could ease the load on the national grid and lessen environmental damage from the supply chain. Hydrogen's plentiful supply, low emissions, substantial greenhouse gas reduction, and efficient generation process were identified as major advantages.
In the UK, the majority of homes currently use natural gas boilers for heating. This has led to increased energy costs, pollution issues, and fossil fuel dependence, threatening the sustainability and energy security of the UK's building sector.
The UK government aims to phase out fossil fuel heating systems in new homes by 2026. Its Heat and Buildings Strategy plans for at least 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028. Recognizing hydrogen's role in reducing carbon emissions, the strategy suggests it could serve up to 4 million households by 2035.
The study emphasizes that the development of the heat pump market and its supply chain is crucial for the UK's energy security and resilience. The researchers hope their findings will guide policymakers and stakeholders in adopting greener supply chain methods for heat pumps, thereby strengthening the UK's energy infrastructure.
Professor Lenny Koh, director of the University of Sheffield's Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre and co-head of the Energy Institute, highlights the significance of this research. It underscores the role of zero-emission heat pumps in reducing environmental impact, attracting investments, garnering local government support, and influencing financial commitments towards renewable energy integration.
The paper concludes that the UK has a great opportunity to domestically advance hydrogen production systems and the heat pump supply chain. It advocates for the parallel development of hydrogen production technologies like electrolysis and the manufacturing capacity for heat pump components in the UK, including compressors, evaporators, valves, and refrigerants.
The researchers believe that their findings could assist policymakers in choosing sustainable supply chain paths, thereby combatting climate change and its harmful effects. By enhancing the UK's energy sustainability, resilience, and security, these efforts are expected to benefit various industries and sectors.