Electricity can be used as the energy to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. Clever stuff.
You can then burn hydrogen to release that energy to heat houses. More clever stuff.
Or you can use electricity directly to transfer six times as much heat into a house using a heat pump. Really clever stuff.
You can also use hydrogen from electrolysis to release electricity in fuel cells to drive cars around the houses. Why not use the electricity via batteries to drive cars directly and use half the amount of original electricity to go the same distance?
Why go around the houses and dream of what might be possible in fifteen years time?
Energy Efficiency First
Why not just get on with using efficient heat pumps right now to heat houses without burning fossil fuels?
Why not just get on with using efficient battery electric cars instead of burning fuel to drive them?
The first step is for the Chancellor to lift the punitive taxes on domestic electricity.
These thoughts were prompted by a research article Potential and risks of hydrogen-based e-fuels in climate change mitigation published in Nature Climate Change on 6 May 2021. It calculated that to produce and burn hydrogen-based fuels in gas boilers would require six to 14 times more electricity than heat pumps would to provide the same amount of warmth. This is because energy is lost in separating the hydrogen from water, then in converting it to e-fuel, then burning it.For cars, using e-fuels would require five times more electricity than is needed for battery-powered cars.
Falko Ueckerdt, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who led the research said, “Hydrogen-based fuels can be a great clean energy carrier, yet their costs and associated risks are also great. If we cling to combustion technologies and hope to feed them with hydrogen-based fuels, and these turn out to be too costly and scarce, then we will end up burning further oil and gas. We should therefore prioritise those precious hydrogen-based fuels for applications for which they are indispensable: long-distance aviation, feedstocks in chemical production and steel production.”
Prof Gunnar Luderer of the study team said: “As climate targets require immediate emission reductions, direct electrification should come first to assure a safe future. It is clear that the contribution of e-fuels and hydrogen will be marginal on the timescale to 2030.”