Energy Bill Form

May 20, 2024

Household Hydrogen Heating Scheme Blocked

The UK Government has halted a third test of hydrogen as a method to heat homes.

The UK government has halted a third pilot programme to test the use of hydrogen as a heating source for homes. This decision means that UK households will have to rely on electricity for low-carbon heating for the foreseeable future. The original plan was to create a ‘hydrogen town’ to test the efficacy of hydrogen as a heating source before making a final decision in 2026. However, the government has abandoned this plan, as well as two smaller trials in Redcar, Teesside and Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.

Despite discontinuing the project, the UK government still believes that low-carbon hydrogen could play a role in achieving its net-zero targets. The government will review evidence from a pilot scheme in Fife, Scotland, and similar initiatives in Europe. A spokesperson said, "We plan to decide in 2026 on whether, and if so how, hydrogen will contribute to heating decarbonisation."

Industry experts have stated that the UK government's decision means that all attention and investment should be focused on readily available clean heat solutions, such as heat pumps and heat networks.

Juliet Phillips, the head of UK energy at E3G, an independent climate change think-tank, stated:

“the government’s decision had made clear that all attention and investment should be focused on readily available clean heat solutions, like heat pumps and heat networks. Discussions on hydrogen for heating are an unhelpful distraction that muddy the waters on the future of how we heat our homes. Widespread use of hydrogen for heating is widely understood to be an extremely expensive and inefficient way to meet net zero targets, which could exacerbate fuel poverty.”

Jess Ralston, the head of energy at the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, said the decision would pave the way for more investment into heat pumps, which boost energy security by lowering the amount of gas the UK needs to import, as output from the North Sea continues to decline. She added:

“The US and Europe are already installing heat pumps in their millions in response to the gas crisis that has already cost the UK over £100bn, and it looks like we might be starting to catch up".

It follows plans to build new hydrogen power plants in the UK, including one in Teesside by the British multinational oil and gas company BP. The HyGreen Teesside project has been selected by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to progress to the next stage of negotiations in its first funding round for green hydrogen projects. These projects are intended to support the commercial deployment of hydrogen projects and kickstart the low-carbon hydrogen economy across the UK.

HyGreen Teesside aims to start production in 2026 and is planned to be one of the UK’s biggest ‘green’ hydrogen facilities. The project aims to help fuel the development of Teesside, leading the way for large-scale decarbonisation of heavy transport, airports, ports, and rail in the UK. It will also help carbon-intensive sectors in the region, such as chemical and process industries, to decarbonise.

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