OCTOBER 10, 2021
By Paul Homewood
h/t Ian Magness
Welcome to the real world, Lord!!
Using hydrogen to replace natural gas as a green alternative in boilers is “pretty much impossible”, a minister has admitted, despite the Government planning major trials over the coming decade.
The Government’s plan currently targets the production of 5GW capacity by 2030, which it hopes to use for industry, transport and potentially home heating.
A village will be selected to trial hydrogen in its pipes as a heating alternative by 2025. This will involve the conversion of the local grid and the replacement of devices such as boilers, meters and hobs. A town-scale trial is planned by 2030.
Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has suggested that all homes with gas boilers could potentially be switched to hydrogen, depending on the outcome of trials.
But Lord Martin Callanan, a junior minister in the business and energy department, has admitted that low-carbon hydrogen is unlikely to become a viable alternative.
Describing himself as a “little bit of a hydrogen sceptic”, Lord Callanan said: “If I’m being honest the idea that we could produce enough hydrogen at reasonable cost to displace mains gas is pretty much impossible.
“Technology might get us there, there might be some scientific breakthrough. But it’s more likely that it will end up being used by trains and HGVs, for some industrial processes, rather than for home heating.
“But the official policy is we will see how the market develops and take a view in the mid-part of this decade as to whether it will play a significant role in the home.”
The Government wants hydrogen to provide enough energy for 67,000 homes, or 0.2 per cent of domestic heating demand, by 2030, rising to around 10 per cent by 2035, which could involve blending it into the natural gas grid.
Hydrogen can be made either using methane, with the emissions captured and stored, classed as “blue”, or through electrolysis, considered “green” if renewable electricity is used.
Blue hydrogen is not considered to be a zero-carbon energy source, and requires carbon capture technology that is yet to be deployed at scale.
Creating green hydrogen for homes would use six times as much electricity as direct heat electrification from heat pumps, according to a study last year.
Lord Callanan acknowledged that moving to green heating in homes is “one of the biggest political challenges that we are faced with as a government.”
“It doesn’t get that much publicity, but it’s something that will cost us an enormous amount of money over the next 15 to 20 years.”
The comment that creating green hydrogen for homes would use six times as much electricity as direct heat electrification from heat pumps is an interesting one.
As we know, the running costs of heat pumps is already higher than for a gas boiler. This study indicates that hydrogen boilers could be at least six times higher.