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Cornwall Insight: could hydrogen decarbonise residential heating?

Published by
Global Hydrogen Review,

Cornwall Insight has released a report assessing the potential of hydrogen in the challenging task of decarbonising residential heating in Ireland. The report found that lowering the CO2 emissions from residential heating would be a key component in Ireland achieving its ambitious vision to reach net zero by 2050.

While there are three potential hydrogen heating solutions including hydrogen ready boilers, hydrogen hybrid heating (heat pump and hydrogen boiler) and hydrogen blending in the natural gas network, the latter was identified as the likely solution for Ireland. While the other hydrogen heating solutions are technically feasible, they are restricted by connectivity to the gas network and the availability of more efficient heating solutions such as heat pumps.

The process, which involves blending up to 20% hydrogen with natural gas in the gas network, provides a non-disruptive solution to the consumers and generates substantial CO2 savings. Cornwall Insight estimated that there would be approximately 1 TWh of hydrogen demand annually to supply the hydrogen needed in the domestic sector.

Deva Devaraj, Modelling Analyst at Cornwall Insight said: “The residential sector accounts for 29% of Ireland's total CO2 emissions, which is significantly higher than the UK's 14%. Hydrogen blending could be a tool in curbing the residential CO2 emissions in the short-term as it is cheaper when compared to other low carbon heating solutions.

“A tonne of CO2 emissions can be avoided annually by switching just seven Irish households to 20% hydrogen blended gas, which can be a significant saving. However, only a third of the households are connected to the gas network which greatly limits the implementation of hydrogen-based solutions.

“If the Irish Government's soon to be released Hydrogen Strategy identifies hydrogen as a solution for residential decarbonisation, several hurdles need to be overcome to create confidence in progressing hydrogen in the domestic sector in Ireland. This includes assessing the Irish housing stock to determine feasibility of hydrogen solutions, ensuring government low carbon targets are met through state funding to cut the price gap between wholesale and renewable gas, and increasing hydrogen supply.”

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