UK’s push for hydrogen heating is benefiting authoritarian regimes and financial giants with stakes in the fossil fuel industry, who fear their gas industry investments will become stranded assets if the country switches to heat pumps.
According to Ferret, gas firms’ shareholders include the Chinese and Qatari governments, Macquarie Bank, CK Hutchison Holdings, and Power Asset Holdings. They paid nearly £2.4bn to shareholders in the last five years. Campaigners believe that using hydrogen for heating is controversial because of its efficiency, high costs to consumers, and the fact that the majority of UK hydrogen is still produced from natural gas. Some critics believe the technology is being pushed by vested interests.
The trade body that represents the UK’s gas networks said that “industry, businesses and many homes can only be decarbonised if hydrogen is part of the energy mix”.
The findings raise questions about who will benefit from the government’s proposed transition to hydrogen heating, which is being promoted as a greener alternative to natural gas. Critics are concerned about the impact on fuel poverty, the majority of UK hydrogen being produced from natural gas, and the fact that heat pumps run on electricity, which would make gas pipelines obsolete. The government is due to make a decision about the future of domestic heating in 2026.