A total of 54 studies discount the widespread use of hydrogen in the heating of buildings, according to an updated peer-reviewed meta-review of the independent scientific literature on the matter, putting another nail in the coffin of the notion that hydrogen has a significant role to play in zero-carbon heat.

Stay ahead on hydrogen with our free newsletter
Keep up with the latest developments in the international hydrogen industry with the free Accelerate Hydrogen newsletter. Sign up now for an unbiased, clear-sighted view of the fast-growing hydrogen sector.

The report, A meta-review of 54 studies on hydrogen heating, published yesterday (Thursday) by University of Oxford researcher Jan Rosenow in the journal Cell Reports Sustainability found that H2 is both more costly and less efficient than alternatives.

It comes as the UK government all but turned its back on H2 heating yesterday, cancelling England’s remaining hydrogen heating trial proposal and saying it will rely on evidence from a single trial in Scotland, as well as pilot projects in Europe to inform a future decision on whether to support the concept. .

The peer-reviewed Cell Reports Sustainability study expands on the findings of Rosenow’s previous work analysing English- and German-language independent scientific research on the cheapest and most environmentally effective pathways to decarbonise heating.

Rosenow’s new analysis found that in the most cost-optimal pathways for heat decarbonisation, H2 took a median market share of just 1%.

Hydrogen heating raised energy system costs by a median of 24% compared to electrification (heat pumps and district heating), with a huge range of 0-400% across all 54 studies.

Even more shockingly, the studies show that consumer costs would rise — by a median of 86% across all studies.

Rosenow’s review failed to find a single independent study supporting heating with hydrogen at scale.

The reason for this is that hydrogen needs to be produced, either through electrolysis or reformed from fossil gas — requiring four to six times more energy input compared to direct electrical solutions such as heat pumps, and two to three times as much gas as using that fuel directly.

“This meta-review indicates that the scientific evidence pertaining to hydrogen heating is unambiguous,” reads the report. “None of the independent studies analysed in this review suggests a significant role for hydrogen in space or hot water heating, points to a pathway dominated by hydrogen as the least-cost pathway, or suggests lower consumer costs for hydrogen compared with the alternatives such as electrification and district heating.”

It adds: “This is because it is less efficient, more costly, and more environmentally harmful than alternatives such as heat pumps and district heating.”