The role of hydrogen in the heating supply of the future
Defossilising home heating in Germany is a major challenge. On the one hand, this is due to the enormous amount of energy required. About 800 TWh are currently needed per year to heat homes – that is about one third of Germany's total energy demand. On the other hand, the measures for future-proofing heating are detailed and fragmented – and their implementation is dependent on the decisions of individual homeowners.
As part of the H2-Compass project, we have analysed the building sector and compiled key findings in a factsheet. Hydrogen can play an important, but not a central role in the future of heating, due to the foreseeable scarcity of climate-neutral hydrogen in the coming years. The demand for hydrogen to heat buildings varies greatly in individual studies, from 0 to 150 TWh per year. This depends on whether the broad use of hydrogen in gas distribution networks is considered or not. Even if retrofitting and direct electrification greatly reduce the building sector’s energy demand by 2045, studies suggest that hydrogen will cover less than one third of the amount required. Depending on the region, heat will be gained from very different sources in the future – ranging from environmental or waste heat given off by industrial plants or data centres (harnessed by heat pumps) to solar thermal energy. Hydrogen will be used as an energy carrier in combined heat and power plants and will also be partly mixed into the natural gas grid or, in the future, transported in dedicated hydrogen grids.