Hydrogen for heating? Decarbonization options for households in the United Kingdom in 2050

The heating sector makes up 10% of the United Kingdom’s carbon footprint, and residential homes account for a majority of demand. At present, central heating from a natural gas-fired boiler is the most common system in the UK, but low or zero-carbon hydrogen and renewable electricity are the two primary energy replacement options to reduce the carbon footprint. An important consideration is how using either energy source would affect heating costs. This assessment projects the costs for a typical single-family UK household and climate performance in 2050 using low-GHG or GHG-neutral hydrogen, renewable electricity, or a combination of both. The cost of using boilers or fuel cells in 2050 with two types of hydrogen are assessed: produced via steam-methane reforming (SMR) combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS), and electrolysis using zero-carbon renewable electricity. The costs of heat pumps, the most promising heating technology for the direct use of renewable electricity, are also assessed in two scenarios: a heat pump only and a hybrid heat pump with an auxiliary hydrogen boiler.