The Gas industry is boosting its efforts to promote hydrogen heating at homes, and in doing so is likely to derail efforts to ban fossil fuel heating in new buildings by 2025. That is because a key demand of gas lobbyists is to insist that ‘hydrogen ready boilers’ be allowed to continue to be installed from 2025.
That would permit business as usual for the natural gas industry. Hydrogen supply to homes is likely to be a fantasy except for a few isolated experiments. However the promotion of this fantasy will allow the gas industry to carry on pretty well as normal, installing gas boilers in new homes with a ‘hydrogen ready’ sticker.
Gas industry officials have issued a new call to the Government to bring forward a commitment to support hydrogen heating in homes from 2026. Doing so threatens to stop the Government’s plan to ban fossil fuel heatings from new buildings by 2025, as promised in the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy document issued in October 2021.
As Dr Keith Baker has said: ‘Converting buildings to hydrogen means replacing existing gas boilers with ‘hydrogen-ready’ ones, which are on the market now and fortunately come in at only £50-£100 more – but note the ‘ready’. Ten years ago we were being sold the idea of new fossil fuel power plants on the promise of them being ‘CCS-ready’, yet CCS remains largely unproven and untested at scale, and Scotland’s CCS pilot at Longannet was scrapped way back in 2011.
So if you’re thinking that all this amounts to yet another desperate attempt by the fossil fuel industry to prolong its lifespan, you’d be right, but that hasn’t stopped SGN from trousering £18 million in funding from Ofgem and a further £6.9 million from the Scottish Government for a pilot project at Levenmouth, Fife, that will provide a 100% hydrogen supply to a whopping 300 homes.’
The pilot Fife project is an enormously expensive project – £25 million to supply just 300 homes with hydrogen, allegedly by next year. Certainly we can expect demonstration projects to be more costly than a mature industry, but over £80,000 per dwelling is an enormous price. This compares with a cost of around £4000 extra (ie more than a standard natural gas system) to fit a heat pump into a new house.
It is no surprise that independent green energy experts such as Jan Rosenow regard the prospect of hydrogen heating of domestic properties with disdain. A heat pump is likely to be around four times as efficient in terms of reducing carbon emissions compared to a gas boiler, and that is even assuming that the source of the electricity needed to produce the hydrogen comes from renewable energy sources. But according to the US Government around 95% comes from steam reformation of natural gas. This source of hydrogen for heating in homes will be even more carbon intensive than natural gas itself since significant quantities of natural gas will be burned in order to turn methane into hydrogen.
We need to campaign more vigorously for green building solutions and fight off these hydrogen-spiked efforts by the gas industry to derail the banning of gas boilers in new buildings.
by David Toke
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I do however feel there is some merit in Ecotricity’s Green gas initiative with independent studies from ICL to verify their claims.