Reports suggest that domestic heating bills are likely to soar upwards to around three times their current average rate in order to pay for so-called ‘blue hydrogen’ supplies. Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas with a large proportion of the carbon dioxide captured and stored. As a technology it is competing for public funding resources with other more efficient low carbon solutions such as heat pumps. The fact that blue hydrogen will be such an expensive solution to decarbonise heating is likely to tip the scales in favour of strategies that place more emphasis on fitting heat pumps to heat buildings. The information, about how expensive blue hydrogen is likely to be, has been given little coverage amidst the steady stream of reports (backed by the oil and gas industry) promoting blue hydrogen. Instead attention has been focussed on the costs of installing heat pumps, a key main transition technological competitor to blue hydrogen in the heating market. Yet after installation, the running costs of domestic heat pumps should be broadly the same for consumers compared to supplying hot water using natural gas boilers. A recently published paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science which compared the costs of blue hydrogen with natural gas heating said that ‘the cost of a H2-based heat supply is on average, three times more expensive than natural gas at present.’ This conclusion gels with other accounts. For instance, analysis published in Petroleum Economist reports that large parts of the costs of producing blue hydrogen are taken up by carbon capture and associated costs and the costs of reforming the methane into hydrogen. On the other hand the ‘feedstock’ costs, that is the costs of the natural gas, are inflated by the fact that 25 per cent more methane is needed to meet a given amount of heating than a natural gas system. That is because the steam reformation system is only 80 per cent efficient. Added to this the gas distribution system will need to undergo expensive refurbishment, at least to boost gas pressures.
100% Renewables 13th Dec 2020 read more »