Use hydrogen for heat … but not directly

The UK and many other countries are embracing hydrogen as a pivotal technology in the ambitious journey towards net-zero. With the capacity to store excess renewable energy and to provide a green alternative for industrial processes, hydrogen plays a crucial role in advancing the world to a cleaner and more resilient energy landscape. While hydrogen can be used to directly heat homes and business, it has been shown that this is not economical and would require 5 or 6 times more renewable energy compared to the use of heat pumps. However, there is another way: the heat losses from hydrogen electrolysers which split water into hydrogen and oxygen could feed district heating networks and low temperature industrial processes (e.g. drying). The potential benefits of this integration are massive: Scotland alone has a target of producing 5GW of hydrogen by 2030. With hydrogen electrolyser efficiencies between 70% and 80% this could provide around 1GW of low-carbon heat which would account for around 20% of Scottish heat demand.


While there is large potential, there are also significant challenges to facilitate this integration of waste heat from hydrogen electrolysers into the wider energy system. These range from planning the co-location between renewable generators, hydrogen electrolysers and district heating to controlling the temperature levels and energy flows, e.g. heat demand is higher in winter so that thermal energy storage needs to play a role. Sophisticated modelling, simulation and optimisation tools are required to manage this. This PhD project will develop open-source tools based on existing models in the Institute for Energy Systems, commercials tools such as TRNSYS and EnergyPlus and open-source tools such as PyPSA. These tools will enable the analysis, design and optimisation of the integration of hydrogen electrolysers into the wider electricity system in coordination with district heating and thermal energy storage. An open-source approach improves reliability, reproducibility, reusability, and transparency of research.


The candidate will develop a wide range of skills in simulation, optimisation, and data analysis which are widely applicable to future career development. Additionally, there are opportunities for engaging with an open and inclusive community of open-source energy system developers both within IES and globally.

The project will close as soon as suitable applicant is found. 

Further Information: 

The University of Edinburgh is committed to equality of opportunity for all its staff and students, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. Please see details here:

Closing Date: 

Friday, January 3, 2025

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Essential background: 

  • 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Energy Engineering/Economics, Informatics, or similar
  • Programming in Python, Julia or other high-level language
  • the University’s English language requirements

Desirable background:

  • Energy system modelling and optimisation
  • Data analysis, optimisation and/or machine learning
  • Experience in thermal energy system modelling


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: