UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for heating: A review

(c) UCL Creative Media

1 January 2015

The debate on low-carbon heat in Europe has become focused on a narrow range of technological options and has largely neglected hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, despite these receiving strong support towards commercialisation in Asia. This review examines the potential benefits of these technologies across different markets, particularly the current state of development and performance of fuel cell micro-CHP. Fuel cells offer some important benefits over other low-carbon heating technologies, and steady cost reductions through innovation are bringing fuel cells close to commercialisation in several countries.

Moreover, fuel cells offer wider energy system benefits for high-latitude countries with peak electricity demands in winter. Hydrogen is a zero-carbon alternative to natural gas, which could be particularly valuable for those countries with extensive natural gas distribution networks, but many national energy system models examine neither hydrogen nor fuel cells for heating. There is a need to include hydrogen and fuel cell heating technologies in future scenario analyses, and for policymakers to take into account the full value of the potential contribution of hydrogen and fuel cells to low-carbon energy systems.

Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for heating: A review. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 40 (5), 2065-2083.

Dodds, P.E., Staffell, I., Hawkes, A.D., Li, F., Grünewald, P., McDowall, W., Ekins, P. (2015)