Is Hydrogen in Home Heating Hot Air?

In this briefing, we delve into what will heat our buildings and what role the different energy carriers have to play in keeping our homes warm 30 years from now.

When people ponder how their home will look like 30 years from now, they tend to think about sophisticated smart gadgets, technological innovations, or home robots. However, this question permeates the world of sustainability as well. Materials often take the centre of the scene, with innovative circular alternatives alongside more efficient construction techniques able to lower the impact of cement on the environment.

The moment has come to spring clean our discourse around what will heat our buildings in 2030. In this briefing, we explore the role the different energy carriers have to play in keeping our homes warm 30 years from now.

Looking at the modelling to 2050, it appears quite clearly that hydrogen will play only a marginal role in heating European buildings. On the contrary, electricity will be the main energy carrier delivering this service, through heat pumps (individual and district heating networks) and resistant heaters.

To ensure a gradual uptake of electric heating systems, with the goal of fully decarbonising the building sector before 2050, it’s crucial to scale up renovation from today and ensure that the grid will be able to cope with the electricity demand.

Policy intervention will be key in driving this transformation. A comprehensive policy mix to achieve such a result will need to set a pathway through clear, self-reinforcing regulatory policy setting minimum performance standards for both new and existing buildings. Moreover, any form of fossil heating should be excluded from the current subsidies scheme by concentrating available resources on future proof technologies and targeting energy poverty. Awareness-raising campaign will need to be implemented to gather both the industry and the wider public support. Finally, fossil fuels levies can be applied to amplify and speed up the effect of these policies.


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