Heating UK households with hydrogen instead of natural gas is unrealistic, Lords say

Peers have cautioned that expecting to heat millions of households with hydrogen instead of natural gas is unrealistic and advised ministers to concentrate on boosting heat pumps.

A House of Lords panel accused the government of hindering the nationwide rollout of heat pumps by sending conflicting “mixed messages” about unproven alternatives in a severely critical report.

A crucial component of the strategy to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050 is the widespread use of heat pumps. The equipment increases the temperature in people’s houses by absorbing and compressing the heat from the outside.

By 2028, the government hopes to have built 600,000 heat pumps annually, up from about 35,000 at present. However, adoption has been modest thus far, with many consumers turned off by expensive initial outlays.

The Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee claimed that by continuing to investigate whether hydrogen-powered boilers might be used for household heating, the Government was defeating its own goal. Peers claimed that the review’s ambiguity is “negatively influencing” demand for heat pumps.

Plumbers and other businesses are wary of which technologies to invest in because it is unclear whether heat pumps or hydrogen will be the solution. According to Baroness Parminter, the production of hydrogen requires a lot of energy, and it is uncertain if there will be sufficient resources to power millions of houses.

In Britain, new gas boiler installations would be prohibited starting in 2035, according to plans presented by Boris Johnson. Ministers hope that by providing homeowners with coupons worth £5,000 each, they will encourage wider demand and enable manufacturers to lower prices.

Less than 10,000 of the 30,000 available coupons have been used, and two thirds of the scheme’s first year budget of £150 million has gone unused due to public apathy. Peers said that this was due to the Government’s poor advertising of the program and the fact that heat pumps were still prohibitively expensive for the majority of houses, costing up to £7,000 in some circumstances even after the grant. Some homeowners have been persuaded that there is no sense in switching as a result of the promotion of hydrogen-ready boilers as a potential substitute.

In the long run, officials anticipate that the majority of homes will switch to heat pumps, although detractors contend that this often necessitates costly housing improvements like insulation. According to the Energy and Utilities Alliance, which speaks for some boiler and heat pump manufacturers, up to 12 million houses may not be appropriate for heat pumps.

Industry organizations Energy UK and Hydrogen UK cautioned against adopting a “one size fits all” approach to residential heating.

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