Hydrogen Gas Boilers – The Future of Central Heating?

With climate change at the forefront of everybody’s minds, I thought I would talk to Nicola Seviour, of Ace Energy in Bath, about the prospects this new technology has for providing our domestic heating needs.

 “So, Nicola, Hydrogen Gas Boilers? Are they the future, or an interesting sideline?”

Climate Change is possibly the greatest existential threat currently faced by humankind, and at Ace Energy we take our part in facing up to the challenge extremely seriously. We started out looking at ways of bringing Green Energy to the domestic power market, and have continued in that vein throughout our business history. 

 The UK Government has committed to tackling climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and legislation is in place committing the UK to achieving “Net Zero” carbon by 2050. Whilst we are all aware of the contributions that aeroplanes, cars and electricity generation make towards our carbon debt, it’s not such a widely known fact that 30% of the UK’s current carbon emissions are a product of heating. That’s maybe not so surprising when you consider that currently 80% of UK homes use gas boilers to provide their heating needs.

 Clearly, in order to achieve our zero carbon goals, replacement technologies are required in the domestic heating sphere. Renewable energy sources, such as ground or air heat pumps and solar thermal, are still in their relative infancy. Electric boilers, though widely available, have energy costs multiple times that of modern gas boilers, so an attractive proposition would be to replace the fuel source of gas boilers with a more environmentally friendly alternative like hydrogen. This option presents the possibility of retaining, largely unchanged, the current enormous, comprehensive, and expensively accumulated natural gas delivery system through the use of hydrogen gas as a replacement fuel source.

 Hydrogen boilers could eventually fully replace natural gas boilers, but also present the possibility of being used in tandem with it, as the production and availability of hydrogen is ramped up. A government commissioned report, “The Role of Hydrogen in Delivering Net Zero” calls for Financial Incentives to be put in place to promote the development of A Hydrogen Gas Boiler Industry, and Worcester Bosch and Baxi, who have prototype Hydrogen Boilers in advanced development, have called on the government to mandate hydrogen burning capability as a  prerequisite for all new boiler installs from 2025. In fact, all new gas boilers sold since 1996 have the capability to sustain 23% hydrogen under current regulations, and a pilot scheme is currently operating at Keele University, where 100 homes and 30 faculty buildings are being heated with a 80% / 20% natural gas / hydrogen mix.

 Hydrogen boilers work in a similar manner to gas boilers, and, as mentioned above, Worcester Bosch and Baxi already have prototype models installed and operational. Manufacturers believe that cost equivalence with natural gas boilers will be achievable as production volumes increase. Experienced engineers, such as those in the Ace Energy team, could rapidly attain the required training and certification to guarantee safe and high quality installations of Hydrogen Gas Boilers to exacting Gas Safe standards, meaning installation costs would be comparable.”

 So, in the foreseeable future, we could all be getting our domestic heat and hot water from Hydrogen Gas?”

 Well Russell, It’s certainly a strong possibility, and here at Ace Energy we will certainly be keeping a keen eye on new developments.”

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