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Will hydrogen boilers be the future of home heating?

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Hydrogen is fast becoming a popular solution to our greenhouse gas problems. Once it can be harnessed cheaply, it should pave the way to a greener future.

The UK government is committed to meeting its carbon neutral goal. Because natural gas is a major contributor, it is likely that low-carbon alternatives such as hydrogen will replace it over the coming years.

A hydrogen ready boiler’s major advantage is that it can continue to burn natural gas until more hydrogen gas is available.  This will allow the country to transition to low carbon options with little disruption to home heating.

Viessmann or Worcester Bosch already have hydrogen ready boilers for sale that can run on up to a 20% hydrogen blend.

The best bit is that these new boilers cost the same as the old natural gas versions, so you don’t need to worry about extortionate pricing.


Why is hydrogen receiving so much positive attention?

Using hydrogen as a fuel has a number of advantages.

  • Emissions contain zero carbon
    Fossil fuels including coal, oil and natural gas all emit carbon dioxide from their combustion. This is a major cause of global climate change. Hydrogen, on other hand, does not produce carbon dioxide, helping a household to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Gas infrastructure is already in place can be used to supply hydrogen to homes in the UK
    One of the best things about hydrogen is that you only need to change your fuel supply. It is therefore much easier and faster for everyone to use it. It is also much cheaper than installing a new heating system.
  • Hydrogen is more efficient than gas
    There is the same amount of energy in 1kg hydrogen as in 2.8kg of gas. This means hydrogen has better energy efficiency; you can heat homes just as well with less fuel.

Hydrogen boilers avoid the dreaded gas boiler ban

In the UK, a gas boiler ban comes into effect in 2025. After that date, all new homes built must have an alternative form of heating system; the ban does not apply to homes built before 2025.

If you buy a gas boiler now, you can probably use it for its entire lifetime, which is around 10 to 15 years. When gas boilers are eventually phased out, you can heat your house using either a heat pump (at least partially as a hybrid system) or a hydrogen gas-powered boiler.

The majority of UK homes have gas boilers for heating. Heat pumps and solar pumps are expensive and complicated to install, and may not be able to deliver the same level of heating. This is why hydrogen ready boilers have been deemed the most viable solution; they can make use of the existing infrastructure and engineers. As an added bonus, their price point will likely remain affordable.


Why use hydrogen as a fuel?

Hydrogen fuel can be delivered using the existing gas infrastructure, which connects to 8 out of 10 homes in the UK. Industry experts agree that it is easier to change the fuel in every home than the central heating system.

At the moment, the Environmental Audit Committee is evaluating the feasibility of delivering hydrogen to homes using the gas network.

The top manufacturers, Worcester Bosch and Viessmann, are currently working on hydrogen-ready or hydrogen boilers. These boilers can burn natural gas as well as hydrogen.

But what about installation and repair?

Hydrogen boilers have a similar appearance to gas boilers today, and are also installed in the same way. They would connect to the gas mains, and then have a hydrogen or other natural gas feed.

The internal components of a hydrogen boiler would look very similar to the current gas boilers too, making them easy for heating engineers to install and fix. 

The components of the boiler that may differ from a standard gas boiler include a hydrogen ready burner and flame detector.

Gas Safe Engineers are expected to receive new training in hydrogen gas and installation of hydrogen gas boilers when the gas network becomes hydrogen-based.


Can I get a hydrogen ready boiler now?

Most new boilers sold in the UK right now are hydrogen ready. If you are unsure, speak to the installation company about which boiler is hydrogen ready and more importantly, which boiler is best for your home. You can choose from a range of combi boilers, system boilers or conventional boilers; your engineer will be able to advise on the best size and option for your home’s heating needs.

Have you made the switch to a hydrogen ready boiler yet?

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