IEA says hydrogen use in buildings will be ‘niche’, expects ‘negligible’ rollout by 2030

The use of hydrogen for heating buildings will remain “negligible” by 2030, with current policies, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
In its annual Global Hydrogen Review 2023, the IEA said there had been “no significant development in 2022” in using hydrogen to meet demand in the building sector.
The IEA was clear that hydrogen was not the best option to shift the use of fossil fuels in buildings towards low-carbon alternatives. It said hydrogen could contribute to some “niche applications, such as heating old and poorly insulated buildings already connected to a natural gas grid in cold environments”. But it said energy losses associated with
hydrogen conversion and transport meant hydrogen was “much less efficient than other available options”, saying that electric heat pumps “require five to six times less electricity than a boiler running on electrolytic hydrogen to provide the same amount of heating”.
Other hydrogen disadvantages included the need for new or repurposed infrastructure and devices.
The report said electrification via heat pumps, district heating, and distributed renewables “appear to be well ahead of hydrogen technologies,” so it forecast that by 2030 the “use of hydrogen for decarbonisation in the buildings sector is therefore negligible” under current policies, meeting 0.14% of total energy demand in the sector and using 0.03Mt.
It said there has been little progress in 2022 on the deployment of buildings technologies
that might run on hydrogen. Although fuel cells had experienced “modest market growth” in the past few years they are predominantly run on fossil fuels. Pilots using pure hydrogen in buildings included two in the Netherlands. In Lochem 12 historic homes had been converted and in Stad aan’t Haringvliet residents had voted in favour of switching from natural gas to green hydrogen.

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