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Hydrogen – sooner than you think?

Hydrogen – sooner than you think?

As we’ve noted before in this blog, there are strong moves to make wider use of hydrogen as a fuel for heating, to replace fossil fuels.

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Whilst the switch to 100% hydrogen may still be some way off there is every chance that many heating systems will be burning some hydrogen in the very near future.
This assertion follows the announcement by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) – a trade association for energy companies – that hydrogen could be blended into the gas mains supply – up to around 20% by volume - by 2023.
This has clear implications for specifiers and building operators considering new heating plant, as they will need to ensure a level of ‘future-proofing’ that can accommodate hydrogen as it is gradually introduced to the gas supply. It’s worth noting that high quality boilers such as Hoval’s UltraGas 2 condensing boilers have a very long life – but are already ‘hydrogen-ready’ and will be able to run on 100% hydrogen when this becomes available.
Hydrogen is a very attractive alternative to fossil fuels as there are no carbon emissions at point of use (see Combustion Without Carbon Emissions). However, adding it to the mains gas supply will be dependent on a government decision, which is expected by 2023. If the plan goes ahead it could potentially deliver an immediate 20% reduction in natural gas consumption.
However, there is also the question of availability as current production levels are insufficient for such a move. The government has currently targeted 5GW of domestic hydrogen production, but the ENA is urging an increase to 10GW. There is also a desire to increase this production in the UK, rather than looking beyond.
However this situation evolves, it is apparent that any new gas boiler installed today will need to be able to operate on hydrogen during its lifetime, ideally making the switch seamlessly. So it makes sense to work with manufacturers that are ahead of the curve and already addressing these challenges.