The North West Hydrogen Alliance (NHWA) has called on the Government to mandate hydrogen-ready boilers from 2026 in order to save consumers up to £36 billion in boiler replacement costs and help cut carbon emissions on the route to net zero.
Modelled against the National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios where hydrogen heating plays a role in reaching net zero, NWHA analysis shows that delaying a mandate until 2030 could cost an additional £8.6 billion. Responding to the Government’s Improving Boiler Standards and Efficiency consultation, the NHWA is advocating urgent action to provide certainty for the industry and drive investment.
A decision by the Government on whether hydrogen should be part of the solution to decarbonise heating homes will be made in 2026. Introducing a mandate will ensure that a large proportion of the UK’s boiler stock is hydrogen ready – this would speed up conversion and reduce disruption for consumers as only a short conversion process is required rather than the installation of a new boiler.
Hydrogen-ready boilers are designed to run on the existing gas grid and can also be easily converted by installers to run on pure hydrogen. Hydrogen heating requires much lower capital costs than heat pumps, which cost an average of £13,000 – five times the cost of a boiler.
Professor Joe Howe said, “Almost 20% of UK carbon emissions come from heating buildings. Hydrogen heating is critical to decarbonising Britain’s homes and achieving our net-zero ambitions. In the North West alone if just 50% of homes moved to hydrogen heating this would save 3 million tonnes of CO2 every year.
“Doing nothing is not an option and while we will need a mix of solutions, including electrification, the UK cannot cost-effectively decarbonise its housing stock without hydrogen. Introducing a hydrogen-ready boiler mandate will enable consumers to choose between several decarbonisation options, whilst minimising disruption and saving up to £36 billion in boiler replacement costs.
“We urge the Government to take urgent action in bringing forward a hydrogen-ready boiler mandate, as delaying will cost billions more. Our research shows that putting back a mandate for just four years would add £8.6 billion to the overall cost. Pushing ahead with a mandate will send the industry a strong message of certainty which will support investment in the entire hydrogen economy. A failure to act now just stores up more costs, more delay and more problems further down the line.”
Heat is responsible for almost half of UK energy demand and buildings are responsible for almost 20% of all UK carbon emissions. Using hydrogen for heating could reduce average household emissions by 2.4 tonnes of CO2 per year, reducing residents’ carbon footprint by 35%.
The North West is one of two locations being considered by the Government as the home of the UK’s first Hydrogen Village. If the North West bid, by Cadent and British Gas, is successful, residents within Whitby, Ellesmere Port in Cheshire could swap from natural gas to hydrogen in 2025. The Hydrogen Village trial will inform the decision by Government on the future role of hydrogen to heat homes due in 2026. The NWHA has thrown its support behind the Whitby Hydrogen Village trial which would cement the North West’s position as the UK’s first hydrogen region.
Marc Clarke said, “Given the potential for our gas networks to be converted to hydrogen in the not-too-distant future and when you consider the lifetime of an appliance like a boiler for a central heating system may be more than 10-15 years we definitely need the Government to support mandating hydrogen ready boilers.
“Coupled with the opportunity to provide consumers with greater informed choice and a broader range of options for future heat in their homes without compromising the availability or roll-out of low-carbon heating technologies – making hydrogen-ready boilers mandatory seems like a no-regrets way to help people get the heating option of their choice”.