Hydrogen is being seen as a key future for reducing our carbon emissions and governments are seriously considering repurposing existing gas networks to pure hydrogen so that it can be used by industry, in homes and businesses, and in the energy sector. However, unlike other energy vectors such as electricity, hydrocarbon gases and district heating, high-purity hydrogen has not been deployed at large scales anywhere in the world. This puts hydrogen at a distinct disadvantage. Any attempt to replace natural gas with hydrogen will require a compelling case to compensate for this lack of experience.
This article explores the importance of natural gas to our energy systems and the benefits of hydrogen, which could significantly decarbonise our heating and reduce over-dependency on natural gas. These include: (i) Hydrogen can use much of the existing gas infrastructure, (ii) Hydrogen is a very versatile fuel which can be used by households, industry and businesses (iii) Hydrogen can be produced in large volumes (iv) Hydrogen compares well with other low-carbon heat technologies. This paper considers a number of key questions which need to be addressed before attempting any large-scale deployment of hydrogen to retrofit homes and businesses.
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