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Mon, 19 October 2020

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Hydrogen technology will help us deliver the decarbonisation of our homes and the gas network

Hydrogen technology will help us deliver the decarbonisation of our homes and the gas network

Credit: PA Images

Cadent

3 min read Partner content

Britain benefits from one of the best developed gas networks in the world - around 85% of British homes are connected to the grid. To meet the challenge of net zero we need policies that will take full advantage of this incredible national asset.

When home heating is referred to in the net zero debate, we often hear of a ‘ban on gas boilers’. Whilst this may grab headlines, it is not correct.

It is, of course, not boilers themselves that are unsustainable, so much as the fossil-fuel gas they currently burn.

That fact is spurring exciting advances in hydrogen technology, which industry evidence suggests will be one of the best ways to tackle the environmental impact of heating our homes and other buildings.

Cadent, as the UK’s largest gas distribution network, is involved in several R&D projects with industry partners to enable, in the near term, the blending of hydrogen with fossil gas and, in the long term, a full switch to 100% hydrogen. 

Switching the gas grid from one type of gas to another has been done before: in the 1960s and ‘70s ‘town gas’ was replaced with natural gas.

Repeating this kind of switch for hydrogen would avoid the disruption of millions of households needing to install alternative heating systems, allowing them to support net zero while continuing to use the gas heating that they know and appreciate.

Going forward there will need to be substantial public engagement on the changes required to hit net zero

Boiler manufacturers such as Worcester Bosch and Baxi have already developed prototype hydrogen-ready boilers and will be able to mass produce them at a cost comparable to standard boilers today. Typically, boilers have a lifespan of around fifteen years.

With the right policies in place, every gas-connected home in Britain could, through this natural cycle of replacement, have a compatible boiler in less than twenty years, ready for a future switchover to hydrogen.

Beyond domestic heating, hydrogen also has a vital role to play in the decarbonisation of industry and heavy transport.

By moving quickly to establish the UK as a global leader in hydrogen technology, we could seize the opportunities in the global hydrogen economy which is estimated to be worth $2.5 trillion annually by 2050, supporting 30 million jobs.

Going forward there will need to be substantial public engagement on the changes required to hit net zero, referring to the phase out of ‘natural gas boilers’ and the introduction of ‘hydrogen-ready boilers’ would help ensure that public awareness of the technology required for net zero is clear and the transition of the fuel type is understood.

Britain benefits from one of the best developed gas networks in the world - around 85% of British homes are connected to the grid. To meet the challenge of net zero we need policies that will take full advantage of this incredible national asset.

 

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