You may have heard that the UK government plans to replace natural gas with hydrogen gas - and that standard gas boilers which we use at the moment will eventually be phased out.
But how does this affect you and your current boiler?
This article will bring you up to speed with the latest plans. Why they are happening, when the changes are likely to start and why it’s good news for everyone.
Are gas boilers going to be banned?
Basically, no! Gas boilers are not going to be banned.
In the UK, after 2025, all new homes built must have an alternative form of heating system; the ban does not apply to homes built before 2025.
The transition to hydrogen
The UK government is planning to replace natural gas with hydrogen gas – because it’s much more environmentally friendly.
This would mean that boiler systems can be used with the existing gas grid while also being converted to entirely run-on 100% hydrogen if a supply becomes available.
However, the transition to hydrogen gas is a process, and the exact timelines and dates of when 100% hydrogen boilers or hydrogen gas will be available are unknown.
The good news is that boiler manufacturers have already started developing hydrogen-ready boiler prototypes and have clarified that they intend to price them at a similar rate as current gas boilers.
When the gas supply in the UK switches to 100% hydrogen, the new hydrogen-ready boilers will simply be switched over to run on this supply.
Is good news on the horizon?
This month (August 2023) SGN (Scotia Gas Networks) are now testing the feasibility of running 100% hydrogen gas through existing gas pipes. This is exciting since repurposing the British gas grid into a hydrogen-based system has the potential to drive decarbonisation across various sectors such as industry, transportation, and heating. Using 100% hydrogen gas boilers in our homes using existing piping would be significantly cheaper and easier to install than a heat pump and this could be the most practical way forward to reduce our carbon emissions. We will keep you posted about any developments we come across regarding this topic!
The transition to 100% hydrogen boilers will likely happen in stages:
- The new 100% hydrogen-ready boilers will be developed and built by manufacturers. They’ll still be able to run on natural gas but will easily be “switched over” when the time comes.
- A 20% hydrogen blend will be run through the gas grid. Currently, most boilers will be able to run on this as normal- including all boilers we fit.
- The UK gas supply will switch to 100% hydrogen and all new boilers will run on this. As this takes at least a couple of decades to achieve, possibly longer, it’s fair to assume that the vast majority of boilers in UK homes by this point will be ones which are fully 100% Hydrogen ready as standard and easily able to switch over when the time comes.
Why is it essential to have an alternative to gas boilers?
The UK plans to introduce hydrogen infrastructure to reduce national demand for fossil fuels for energy, transport, and industry.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that produces CO2 when burned. And that makes heating our homes one of the UK's most significant contributors to climate change.
Hydrogen is very different. Burning hydrogen releases no carbon - it only creates water. This means that pure hydrogen would produce no waste products while it is burning, making the material itself almost 100% efficient.
A boiler that can run on 100% hydrogen is almost three times as efficient as a standard gas boiler.
Hydrogen is so promising as a low-carbon fuel that the government sees it as an essential way of reaching our goal of being net zero as a country by 2050.
What is a hydrogen-ready boiler?
A hydrogen-ready boiler is a gas-ﬁred heating boiler capable of burning either natural gas or pure (100%) hydrogen.
Note: It’s not yet possible to purchase a 100% hydrogen boiler, but industry leaders such as Worcester Bosch, Viessmann, and Baxi continue to make significant progress with their prototypes and testing.
What is a hydrogen-blend-ready boiler?
Nearly all gas appliances used today, including our boilers, can run on a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas.
This is called a ‘blend’ and sees 20% of the fuel source powering the appliance being hydrogen gas, with the remaining 80% being natural gas.
Don’t panic! Your new Worcester boiler is already hydrogen-blend-ready.
You’ll be pleased to know that ALL boilers Scott Findlay fit are Worcester Bosch boilers and are already hydrogen-blend ready.
This means that when the government begins to increase the amount of 'green gases' in the UK gas grid, you can be confident your new gas boiler will run for its lifetime without any changes.