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Focus on deploying heat pumps not hydrogen, report says

INSTALLING heat pumps and boosting energy efficiency should be the priority for home heating, rather than hydrogen, a new report argued today.

Ministers are committed to rolling out 600,000 electricity-dependent heat pumps a year by 2028, as well as developing hydrogen supplies as greener alternatives to natural gas boilers. 

Hydrogen can be generated using renewable electricity or from methane gas, although the latter option emits carbon. 

But the report by Imperial College London’s energy futures lab warns that neither method of production is likely to be available on a large enough scale until the early to mid-2030s.

With tough climate goals to meet before then, the study, commissioned by the MCS Charitable Foundation, found that fixing Britain’s “very draughty” homes, which “leak heat,” should be the immediate priority. 

Additionally, despite high upfront installation costs, shifting to heat pumps is the cheapest option for households in the long term, the report added. 

The researchers called on Tory ministers to support the expansion of British heat pump production and develop a clear strategy to train the tens of thousands of engineers needed to help create jobs. 

While Imperial College’s Dr Richard Hanna, one of the report’s authors, conceded that hydrogen could be useful in large-scale industrial production processes, he stressed: “Right now, there is not a strong case for using it to heat our homes.

“In the near term, the government should focus its efforts on improving heat pump products and their affordability and supporting industry to rapidly scale up production.”

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson claimed that the country needed a “mix of new, low-carbon heating solutions,” including both heat pumps and hydrogen.

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