Wednesday, June 29, 2022
UncategorizedIs the UK Switching to Hydrogen Boilers?

Is the UK Switching to Hydrogen Boilers?

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The UK government has passed into law that it will be carbon neutral by 2050. This, therefore, challenges the role of gas boilers in British homes.

Around 80% of homes in the UK are installed with gas boilers. Furthermore, heating contributes to about one-third of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Photo by Appolinary Kalashnikova on Unsplash

Therefore, switching to a more environmentally-friendly source of energy is a must if the UK government wishes to lower carbon emissions by 2050.

Upgrading to a new boiler could be part of the solution. Switching from natural gas to hydrogen gas fueled boilers is currently seen as the most suitable alternative.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel which produces carbon dioxide when burnt. On the other hand, for hydrogen the only by-product is water. There is also potential to make hydrogen gas in a more carbon efficient way, meaning it is a promising low-carbon fuel option all-round.

Renewable heating systems, such as heat pumps and solar thermal, are other potential non-carbon emitting options. However, the main issue is that they would be expensive and impractical to implement.

Even though it is agreed that an alternative to gas boilers should be put in place, the introduction of a gas ban is not apparent for the immediate future.

A further benefit to switching to hydrogen is that no changes to the existing gas network are required, as hydrogen can be supplied through the gas pipework as it currently stands.

This will make the supply of hydrogen easier to implement, as only the fuel will be changed and not the heating system.

Another benefit is that only minor changes are required to convert current gas boilers into hydrogen-ready ones. Only a few components such as the system’s burner will need to be changed.

At present, it is not possible to buy 100%-hydrogen boilers in the UK. However, 20%-hydrogen blend boilers are already available to purchase.

Furthermore, top manufacturers are already working on creating 100% hydrogen-ready boilers. With well-known brands, such as Worcester Bosch and Baxi, having created prototypes.

Manufacturers have also stated that these new hydrogen boilers will not cost more than the present gas boilers.

The implementation of hydrogen gas will happen gradually over the coming years. One of the first steps the government is taking is to require hydrogen-ready boilers in new-build homes from 2025 onwards.

A 20% hydrogen blend is expected to be introduced into the gas supply by 2028 at the absolute earliest.

The gas network is anticipated to switch to 100% hydrogen in the mid-2040s. This is due to the fact it will take time to phase out gas boilers and for hydrogen boilers to be sold in their place.

Another reason why this switch will be a long process is that the UK doesn’t currently produce enough hydrogen. At the moment, hydrogen production is expensive.

Trials are currently being carried out to work through all the cost, feasibility and safety issues. The UK government expects to make a firm decision on the role of hydrogen in heating British homes by 2026.

Energy Secretary Michael Matheson has said that Scotland has the potential “to become a world leader in hydrogen production”.

The National Grid has combined forces with the Scottish Government, SGN, and OFGEM to test hydrogen on the gas network.

The plan for this project is to fit over 300 hydrogen boilers in Fife by the end of 2022. The trial process will last about four years in total. If the first phase of the trial is successful, then up to 1,000 homes could be included in the project.

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