Heating homes with hydrogen: Are we being sold a pup?

The expression ‘to sell someone a pup’ comes from an old confidence trick, where a bag purportedly containing a piglet would be sold, only for the new owner to discover that it actually contained a puppy. It was a cruel deception at a time when a piglet to fatten would have been hard-won and prized – and there is a danger that proposals to heat homes with hydrogen are also offering a solution worth much less than first appears.

Net-zero emissions targets mean there is no space in future energy systems for the continued use of fossil gas, including for heat in buildings. The gas industry is quite rightly worried about what this means for its business, but hydrogen appears to have thrown a lifeline to the gas industry by trying to sell the idea that we can simply replace fossil gas with hydrogen using existing gas infrastructure. However, there is rarely a simple solution to a complicated problem.

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