UKGBC highlights risks and negligible opportunities in hydrogen ready boiler approach

The consultation proposes to mandate that from 2026 onwards all new domestic-scale gas boilers sold are to be ‘hydrogen-ready’.

That is, they can potentially be converted to run on pure hydrogen in case the gas network is ever converted. The government aims to take strategic decisions in 2026 on the role of hydrogen in heating buildings. The government’s view is that there is a strong case for the introduction of hydrogen-ready boilers as standard from this date.

UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) disagrees. In 2021 we published a Whole Life Carbon Roadmap to Decarbonise the Built Environment. The Roadmap was the product of a year’s worth of collaboration between over 100 UKGBC members and industry organisations. The Roadmap report concluded that there is increasing consensus that although there is a clear role for hydrogen to decarbonise high-temperature industrial processes and some transport, there is limited rationale for the use of hydrogen to heat buildings.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee has also concluded that low-carbon hydrogen will have at most a limited role in replacing natural gas in heating homes. It is many times more expensive and inefficient than heat pumps and heat networks.

The UKGBC Roadmap found that the only possible case for heating homes with hydrogen would be in the close vicinity of some industrial clusters, and not until 2040 (aligned with CCC 6th Carbon Budget ‘Balanced Pathway’). Instead, it supported the phase-out of all gas boilers driven by a clearly signalled end to all sales of all gas boilers by 2030.

UKGBC is also calling for the 2025 Future Homes and Buildings Standard to not permit any type of gas boiler to be installed or gas connection to be made.

Any use of hydrogen would require a transparent and robust science-based approach to the options available for production. Green hydrogen would require a huge increase in dedicated off-shore wind electricity. Blue hydrogen using fossil fuels would rely on carbon capture use and storage which is an immature and expensive technology, and so cannot be considered reliably low carbon and in line with the UK’s climate commitments.

This policy would represent, at the very best, a hugely inefficient, slow and costly path to decarbonisation. The latest IPCC report couldn’t be clearer that the window of opportunity to keep global temperatures below 1.5C is rapidly closing. We can’t afford delays and inflated costs.

We encourage the Government to not mandate hydrogen-ready boilers. And certainly not before 2026 when it has made a strategic decision about the role of hydrogen in heating.

Engr. Haseeb Ullah

Haseeb covers the global energy market for both conventional and modern energy resources. His expertise is on the global energy supply chain from generation to distribution and end-users. He has a Master degree in Engineering Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.
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