Zero-Carbon Emission Integrated Cooling, Heating and Power (ICHP) Networks

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Engineering


Across the UK, 80% of the heating in buildings and industries is generated using natural gas [1]. According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industry Strategy, transitioning to electricity, hydrogen and bioenergy have the potential to make a significant contribution toward low carbon heating. With respect to hydrogen, one potential approach is to use the existing natural gas distribution grid to transport hydrogen.

In this research we explore a zero-carbon emission ICHP energy network concept for decarbonising heating and cooling through the production, distribution and utilisation of hydrogen.

At the national scale, existing gas grid infrastructure would be modified and used to deliver natural gas and hydrogen produced from clean sources to distributed ICHP energy centres across the UK.
At the local scale, intelligent thermal networks, would convert this hydrogen and distribute its energy as electricity, heating or cooling across urban areas in localised industry and residential networks.

Furthermore, ICHP energy centres would also offer additional flexibility, resilience etc. and provide an opportunity to integrate transport energy services through the provision of hydrogen fuelling and electric vehicle fast charging.

The project will be focus on investigating the role and value of the ICHP concept in supporting cost effective heat sector decarbonisation and transition to low carbon whole-energy system.

The aim of the proposal will enable in depth assess of the role of ICHP concept from whole system perspective by:
- Quantifying the techno-economic value of ICHP based heat sector decarbonisation in the whole-energy system context, considering infrastructure investment and operating costs for different carbon emissions targets in short, medium and long term.
- Identifying and quantifying the benefits of flexibility options (i.e., energy storage, demand side response, hydrogen-based flexible gas plants).
- Assessing the role of ICHP paradigm in enhancing the electricity system resiliency, given that the extreme weather conditions should be considered when planning low carbon energy system.

Outputs will be technical evidence of the potential of the technology for stakeholders across the whole system (policy, national, local and consumers).

Planned Impact

The impact of the proposed project will come though the in-depth assessment of the role and value of the whole ICHP energy system. It will provide fundamental quantitative evidence regarding the value of hydrogen-based CHP technology from the whole system perspective as an alternative for decarbonising heating and cooling. To date, analysis of the hydrogen economy has not considered the aspects employed and explored in this proposal. Solutions will inform policy, technical scoping and future energy system design.

The whole ICHP energy system, compared with its conventional alternatives, would bring significant benefit to the UK economy by increasing the investment in the heating infrastructure (e.g., district heating) and/or gas infrastructure and enhance the system flexibility that in turn would deliver larger cost savings in the electricity system, thus meeting the carbon target at a lower overall cost. In addition, the performance of the whole ICHP system based on the regions requirements will provide more detailed solutions for decarbonisation of different geographical areas inside the UK.
Description Advisory Group: Advisory Board of the Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers (IGEM) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Prof Goran Srbac (Co-I at Imperial College, London) is a member of the Advisory Board of the Institution of Gas Engineers & Managers (IGEM), and contributes to the internal discussions related to the value of green-hydrogen in future zero carbon energy system, relaying the system wide benefits of ICHP concept.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
Description Presentation: member of the European Energy Research Alliance - Energy Systems Integration consortium (EERA-ESI) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact As a member of the European Energy Research Alliance - Energy Systems Integration consortium (EERA-ESI), Prof Goran Strbac (CO-I at Imperial College London) attended a workshop in Bochum (Germany), 23-25 January 2023, and made a presentation related to the benefits of hydrogen based decarbonisation pathway, based on the modelling work of the ICHP project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023