Over the coming years, government is set to explore the potential to use hydrogen for heating in buildings, before making a final decision in 2026, it has announced.
On 19 October, it published its Heat and Buildings Strategy, outlining how it plans to incentivise people to install low carbon heating systems in a way that is simple, fair and cheap, helping to significantly reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to global price spikes, while supporting up to 240,000 jobs across the country by 2035.
Key commitments include providing grants of £5,000 from April next year in a bid to encourage homeowners to install more efficient, low carbon heating systems through a £450mn three-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme and taking no-regrets action now. This will include supporting ongoing trials and other research and innovation on future heating systems, such as hydrogen.
Specifically, it will assess the feasibility, safety, consumer experience and other costs and benefits of hydrogen for heating buildings by the middle of the decade, working with industry and other key stakeholders to examine its potential as an option. It will support industry in conducting first-of-a-kind 100% hydrogen heating trials, including a neighbourhood trial by 2023 and village-scale trial by 2025, along with plans for a possible hydrogen town that could be converted before the end of the decade.
Elsewhere, an indicative assessment of the value for money case for blending of hydrogen in the gas grid is being targeted for autumn 2022, ahead of a final policy decision in 2023. It noted that blending of up to 20% hydrogen into the existing gas network could drive emissions reductions of up to 7% from the grid, while supporting the development of a UK hydrogen economy.
It is also aiming to consult on the case for enabling, or requiring, new natural gas boilers to be easily convertible to use hydrogen by 2026 “soon”. It explained that this would ensure new boilers are fit for the future, minimising later disruption and costs to consumers, with this consultation also to be used to test proposals on the future of broader boiler and heating system efficiency, and explore the best ways to reduce carbon emissions from gas heating systems over the next decade.
This will culminate with an evidence base having been developed to take strategic decisions on the role of hydrogen for heating buildings in 2026. Local trials and planning work, along with results from government’s wider research and development and testing programme, informing and enabling decisions on the role of hydrogen for heating in delivering net zero and the actions required to support this.