The role of hydrogen in achieving net zero

10 Jun 2021

Professor Wu recently acted as a witness at the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into the Role of Hydrogen achieving Net Zero.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee held its fourth session as part of its inquiry into the Role of Hydrogen in achieving Net Zero on the 12th May 2021.  Professor Jianzhong Wu was invited to act as an expert witness and took part in this committee alongside Carl Arntzen CEO of Bosch Thermaltechnology Ltd. providing evidence on the future role of hydrogen in domestic heating and within the gas grid.

Professor Wu leads the UKERC Energy systems for heat research theme and is also Head of School of Engineering at Cardiff University.  He is also the principal investigator pf the MC2 project which has been exploring novel methods for sustainable power supply to be used in urban settings in the UK and China.

During the meeting, Professor Wu provided evidence on the role of hydrogen in domestic heating.  Points such as geographical location, infrastructure development and technological advances needed were discussed by Professor Wu.   Different hydrogen types, other sources such as heat pumps, cost effectiveness factors and evidence from other countries were also discussed.

Here is how Professor Wu described the role of hydrogen in the context of the Net Zero:

“…the pace of innovation is much faster than we thought. We need to consider uncertainties, but in that case we should not wait. There are a lot of uncertainties in front of us, but we need to take a decision. Because the pace of innovation is so fast, it is highly possible that hydrogen could be a cost-effective solution beyond 2035 and play a very positive role in achieving net zero”. 

During the evidence, Prof Wu brought to attention that hydrogen is a very promising technology, but that its success is context and place dependent. In addition he stressed that the production and source of hydrogen is as important to consider, as where and how it can be used. Here is how we put it:

“Hydrogen is a core sector resource for decarbonisation. It could be used to decarbonise difficult sectors such as industry – it is heavily used in industry – and transport as well, which is another very difficult sector that we need to look at. For heating, currently we have other alternative solutions such as heat pumps or district heating and other forms of renewable heat as well. Clearly, some technologies can’t be used for old properties. I agree that for some locations hydrogen will play a very important role” Professor Wu.

A full recording of the inquiry can be found on the UK Parliament website.