Hydrogen boilers are not the answer
Blending hydrogen into the UK’s gas heating systems could raise consumer bills by almost £200 for an average household, analysis suggests.
The blending of natural gas with about 20% hydrogen, for use in home heating systems, is one of the key recommendations by the government’s hydrogen champion, Jane Toogood, in a report to ministers on how to produce and use hydrogen in the UK.
Hydrogen blending could increase energy bills by £192 a year
But a group of green campaigners, think tanks and energy companies have written to the energy secretary, Grant Shapps, urging him to reconsider. Analysis by the think-tank E3G shows hydrogen blending could increase the average household’s heating bill by about £192 a year.
The groups warn that blending hydrogen into the gas supply would require consumers to use more gas, as hydrogen provides less energy than fossil gas when used in this way.
“This puts the early costs of building the hydrogen economy on the shoulders of consumers, who will bear the costs of higher energy bills and costs of conversion – on top of the proposed ‘hydrogen levy’ set out in the energy bill. As hydrogen is more expensive than the gas currently used to heat most UK homes, a 20% blend can only raise consumer prices. Raising energy bills during a cost of living crisis is the wrong way to develop industrial demand for hydrogen.”
The government is still considering hydrogen for home heating because some gas specialists argue it could be used in current boilers without the need for new infrastructure. However, a growing number of studies show that hydrogen would be unsuitable, or prohibitively expensive, for heating compared with alternative technologies such as heat pumps.
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The government is expected to decide this year whether to press ahead with plans for the blending of hydrogen into the UK’s natural gas networks, which could happen as soon as 2025. Ministers are also considering a hydrogen levy on bills to fund its development.