A greener future - Hydrogen Boilers ?
As part of the UK Government's move away from natural gas boilers, a lot has been said of electric heat pumps. However they only represent part of the solution and won't be suitable for many homes.
The most important thing to understand at the moment is that nothing dramatic is going to happen. The newspaper headlines of natural gas being banned are simply to grab your attention. For a while now gas boilers haven't been favoured in new builds and by 2025 no new gas boilers will be installed in a brand new property.
This does not include any existing home, so natural gas boilers won't be banned and the gas supply won't be 'turned off' for a long time. Natural gas boilers as we know them will gradually be phased out.
As well as the electric heat pumps, the manufacturers are investing heavily in hydrogen powered boilers.
Hydrogen gas works in a very similar way to the natural gas we currently run our boilers on, but it is much more environmentally friendly. As you would expect, hydrogen does burn differently so there will be a few changes to the boiler itself, but the basic operating principals are the same. This is good news for the homeowner because unlike heat pumps, the anticipated cost of a hydrogen boiler will be very similar to the cost of a natural gas boiler.
We are expected to hear by 2026 the exact role hydrogen powered boilers will play, but is likely to happen in 3 phases;
New boilers will be built hydrogen ready. This basically means you can continue to operate the boiler on natural gas and they can be modified when the hydrogen supply is live and ready. A simple conversion will be carried out for the switch to hydrogen to be made.
Hydrogen is going to be mixed with the current gas supply which is piped to UK homes. The vast majority of existing boilers will operate on this mix as normal.
100% hydrogen will be piped to UK homes. Every boiler sold in the UK will run off 100% hydrogen.
The completion of the switch to hydrogen is a long term goal. Current estimates suggest 2040 at the earliest.
What are my options if I need a new boiler ?
With the high cost of gas it is important we keep our gas boilers maintained and running an old inefficient boiler can be costly. So if you are choosing to replace your boiler it is most likely that it will be replaced with a more efficient natural gas boiler. As explained above, hydrogen boilers wont be ready for some time and heat pumps are likely to be unsuitable without substantial upgrades to the property and substantial cost.