Home is where the hydrogen boiler (or heat pump) is. With traditional gas heating due to be phased out by 2050, two greener but more expensive alternatives are vying to take its place. Which will come out on top — and will Britons be willing to pay for it? When the temperature plummeted to minus 6C in January, Reuben Shaw had a stack of logs ready for the fire in case his decision to rip out his family’s gas boiler and replace it with an electric heat pump left them freezing. He had read warnings that older homes, such as his, would need expensive underfloor heating and extra insulation to stay warm with a heat pump. Having chosen not to heed the warnings, because of the cost and disruption of the additional measures, Shaw, 44, then found the heat pump immediately tested by the coldest January for a decade. His gamble paid off: as snow fell on Dibden Purlieu, Hampshire, and the pump’s fans hummed at top speed in a 5ft-tall cabinet outside their 110-year-old four-bedroom detached home, the family remained toasty. Ministers are planning from next year to offer grants of up to £4,000 for a heat pump, and are considering banning sales of conventional boilers from the mid-2030s. They have also pledged to ban the installation of gas boilers in new homes from 2025. Boris Johnson’s “Ten Point Plan” for cutting emissions, published in November, said: “We will aim for 600,000 heat pump installations per year by 2028.” But it dodged the key question of whether most homes in future will have heat pumps or, as the gas industry proposes, so-called “hydrogen-ready” boilers. These burn natural gas but contain equipment allowing them to be adjusted to burn hydrogen if and when it becomes available in the local gas grid. The plan left open “the choice as to whether we ultimately pursue hydrogen heating, an electrified heating system or a mixture of both”. The government will shortly set out more detailed plans in its heat and buildings strategy, but in the meantime, the vast majority of homeowners are sticking with boilers. About 1.6 million new boilers were sold last year but only 30,000 heat pumps.
Times 18th June 2021 read more »