Industry responds to Hydrogen Strategy

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Published: 17 August 2021


Laura Bishop of the GSHPA

Industry figures have welcomed the UK Government's first Hydrogen Strategy, but warn that the decarbonisation of housing stock needs to happen now.

Plans to create a low carbon hydrogen sector in the UK over the next decade and beyond have been announced by the Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng. The Government says it will work with industry to meet its ambition for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 – the equivalent of replacing natural gas in powering around 3 million UK homes each year as well as powering transport and businesses, particularly heavy industry.

It claims a UK-wide hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million and create over 9,000 high-quality jobs by 2030, potentially rising to 100,000 jobs and worth up to £13 billion by 2050. 

In response, Laura Bishop, chair of the Ground Source Heat Pump Association, said:  “We welcome the Government’s ambitions to develop the hydrogen economy in the UK. However the country has to get moving with decarbonising heat if it’s to reach the Net Zero targets. Heating people's homes by using green hydrogen is certainly an option – albeit a costly one - but is highly optimistic given the short timeframe that we have to address Net Zero and the climate emergency. 

“Heat pumps are a proven and efficient heating technology, and their costs will fall as investment in UK heat pump manufacturing and installation increases. We await the Government’s Heat & Building Strategy that I’m sure will provide a clear roadmap for the UK to crack on with decarbonising the country’s housing stock now rather than at some uncertain time in the future.”

Mark Wilkins, above, technologies and training director at Vaillant, said: "The introduction of up to 20 per cent hydrogen gas into the wider natural gas network is a positive first step to begin the UK’s hydrogen journey and this strategy provides key milestones to build the network progressively up to 100 per cent hydrogen.

"Currently, there are 26 million homes in the UK, so during this decade trials and testing are fundamental to achieve our decarbonisation goals. The 2030s will begin wider roll outs and further trials but as outlined in the strategy the hydrogen transition may take several decades. At Vaillant we fully support hydrogen as a heating solution and are developing hydrogen-ready appliances ahead of the Government’s strategic decision on the role of hydrogen for home heating to be taken by 2026.

“The fact remains that climate change is happening now, and at Vaillant, we believe there will be no silver bullet solution and there will be a mix of technologies needed to help reduce emissions. Heat pumps are a tried and tested alternative low carbon heating solution that is available today. Whilst we are working with the industry to bring hydrogen solutions for home heating, homeowners, installers and housebuilders should look to start their decarbonisation journey with heat pumps. We are eager to see more clarity on heat pump funding and hydrogen within the long-awaited Heat and Buildings Strategy in September. We look forward to continuing to support the Government in achieving the UK’s ambitious net zero targets.”

Graham Russell, above, managing director of Viessmann UK, said: "Hydrogen boilers are a great option for consumers as they offer a like-for-like replacement with minimal disruption. Hydrogen also has wider benefits across the energy system, for example, when excess electricity is used to generate hydrogen by electrolysis, this encourages the further deployment of wind or solar power, contributing to a more resilient, low cost energy system.

"Viessmann is pleased to see the Government’s ongoing commitment to hydrogen trials and pilots which will demonstrate that hydrogen is as safe as natural gas and affordable for the consumer. We are also supportive of the Government’s announcement to consult on mandating “hydrogen ready” boilers from 2026 as this is a no-regrets step that will lower the cost of rolling out hydrogen heating in the future.

"Viessmann is one of the key pioneers in the hydrogen space with our hydrogen fuel cell that has been available since 2015. In addition, our Vitodens boiler range is certified and able to accept hydrogen blends of up to 20%, which means that consumers can begin reducing their emissions as soon as hydrogen becomes available. We are also working on our 100% hydrogen products for both domestic and commercial buildings and look forward to participating in trials and pilots over the coming years.''