Hydrogen heating can be a reality for the UK, but policies need to keep pace with the opportunity.
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Carl Arntzen is the CEO of Worcester Bosch and shares his analysis of the latest discussion with UK Members of Parliament at the Leaders LIVE event Hydrogen: Hot or Hype?
Recently we were delighted to welcome MPs on a virtual tour of the new hydrogen boilers we are developing at Worcester Bosch. It was a timely session given that it coincided with the first installation of a hydrogen boiler in a private home in the UK.
The role of hydrogen is being actively discussed and analysed in policy circles – a welcome development as I believe hydrogen will play a fundamentally important role in helping to ensure that we meet our carbon reduction targets in the coming decades. Worcester Bosch have focused our efforts on how to decarbonise our heating systems – this is particularly important given that more than 80% of homes (23 million) are connected to the national gas grid and domestic heating accounts for around 15% of the UK’s annual Co2 emissions. Each year around 1.6 million boilers are installed across the UK, so the chance to switch to a heating system that produces no Co2 emissions is not to be missed.
Our virtual tour gave us the opportunity to discuss our technology and thought process behind the development of our hydrogen ready boiler. We demonstrated the inside of the boiler system, its size (the same as our existing natural gas combi boilers) and how it compares to electric heat pumps.
I was delighted that amongst the MPs who joined us was our local MP, Robin Walker who has always been supportive of our activities. Alongside my colleague Martyn Bridges I enjoyed the discussion that followed our presentation and was pleased to answer questions from our host Jacob Young MP. Chris Grayling MP, Lia Nici MP, Richard Thomson MP and Alexander Stafford MP also joined the discussion which I think demonstrated the breadth of interest that exists across Parliament to understand the practical benefits that hydrogen can deliver for people.
Understandably many questions centred around the timescales and costs of rolling out hydrogen ready boilers across the UK. There were also questions around building regulations and, crucially, hydrogen capacity and production. We believe that costs will not act as a significant barrier in the years to come – and certainly a hydrogen ready boiler will be no more expensive than a traditional combi boiler. Some questions also focused on what technical changes are required to modify the gas grid in order to supply hydrogen to people’s homes.
The event provided us with an opportunity to demonstrate the progress we have made in investing in hydrogen technologies for the future. It was encouraging to receive the support of the Hydrogen All Party Parliamentary Group and it is clear that there is now overwhelming demand from industry for the Government to come forward with a detailed Hydrogen Strategy very quickly. With COP26 being hosted in Glasgow next year this is surely the time for the UK to become a genuine world leader and shape a cleaner, more sustainable future.
Carl Arntzen is CEO of Worcester Bosch