Government investigates future for hydrogen-ready industrial boilers


The government has launched a call for evidence as it looks to develop potential options to enable or require hydrogen-ready industrial boiler equipment.

Launched on 20 December, BEIS detailed how hydrogen-ready industrial boilers have the potential to help industry decarbonise and kickstart the UK hydrogen economy. The UK Hydrogen Strategy suggests potential hydrogen demand for industrial fuel switching to be between 10TWh and 21TWh per annum by 2030, depending on supply being limited to industrial clusters or available nationwide.

Using the Net Zero Industrial Pathways (NZIP) model, BEIS goes further in the call for evidence, finding potential hydrogen demand for industrial boiler fuel switching to rise to 5TWh by 2030, before then plateauing around 7TWh per annum in the late-2030s under the cluster scenario. In the national scenario, it finds early demand to be realised through clusters, hitting 8TWh per annum by 2030, before going on to plateau at 37TWh per annum in the mid-2040s. Under these scenarios, industrial CO2 emissions savings of 1.3MtCO2e would be realised per annum through the cluster scenario and 7.3MtCO2e per annum in the national scenario by 2050.

Therefore, the government is seeking views and evidence to inform the development of possible options to enable or require hydrogen-ready industrial boiler equipment, with areas of specific interest including how “hydrogen-ready” should be defined. No standardised definition for hydrogen-ready means equipment manufacturers use the term to mean different things, ranging from 100% hydrogen to a blend of hydrogen and methane. An established definition would serve to help sites take informed decisions with regards to whether the technology is suitable for them.

It is also seeking views on whether hydrogen-ready boiler equipment would enable cheaper and faster fuel switching, as well as whether the government should take action to encourage hydrogen-ready boiler equipment. Potential levers at its disposal include providing timely information about the future cost and availability of hydrogen, alongside comparable information or other ways to decarbonise; funding either some or all of the costs of hydrogen-ready industrial boiler equipment, de-risking initial investment as a result; and requiring all new industrial boiler equipment to be hydrogen-ready.

Finally, government wants to explore the role of the supply chain and how to maximise economic opportunities for the UK. The support of a world-class, sustainable supply chain will be key to ensuring industry successfully makes the switch to low carbon hydrogen. This will call for new capabilities across the supply chain, opening up opportunities for new participants, as well as giving existing ones a chance to expand and adapt.

On some of the other economic opportunities, it noted fuel switching industry to hydrogen will require sites and the supply chain to reskill staff, creating new green jobs across the UK, while in terms of exports, its analysis suggests a quarter of UK jobs in the UK hydrogen sector and 30% of the economic opportunity will be driven by exports. The market for industrial boilers and associated services will be global, meaning a transition to hydrogen-ready equipment in the UK can put UK-based manufacturers in prime position to export this technology abroad. The consultation will run until 11:45PM on 14 March 2022.