Two of the UK’s leading boiler manufacturers are supporting a new trial that features homes heated by prototype hydrogen gas units. Professional Builder reports.
The government’s on-going commitments to reducing carbon emissions has made finding a future beyond natural gas heating now more important than it has ever been. Indeed, if Whitehall targets are to be achieved it is imperative that the CO2 output from domestic properties is addressed, and hydrogen is increasingly be viewed as a viable option. That’s why boiler manufacturers, Baxi Heating and Worcester Bosch have installed hydrogen burning boilers at ‘HyStreet’ in purpose-built demonstration houses at DNV GL’s specialist test site at Spadeadam in Northumberland. The site has been used to complete over 200 tests, researching and proving the safety of converting homes and gas networks to hydrogen.
The project is part of H21, a Network Innovation Competition project sponsored by Ofgem. Northern Gas Networks is leading the project with partners Cadent, Scottish Gas Networks, Wales & West Utilities, National Grid, DNV GL and the Health and Safety Executive’s science division. H21 is demonstrating how existing natural gas networks can be repurposed to safely carry 100 per cent hydrogen.
For the first demonstration, both Worcester Bosch and Baxi Heating have installed combi boilers into the houses on HyStreet. The boilers have been developed as part of the UK Government-funded Hy4Heat programme, which is also supporting the development of hydrogen-ready gas cookers, fires and gas meters.
As around 85 per cent of UK homes currently rely on natural gas for heating and hot water, repurposing the natural gas grid for use with hydrogen would mean a low disruption option for householders to decarbonise their heating without the need for extensive changes to their existing system.
Domestic properties responsible for approximately 15 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions, therefore tackling the impact of home heating is essential and one of the most difficult challenges in achieving net-zero emissions, given the need to make adaptations in almost every home. A growing library of studies and reports conclude that all viable scenarios for the UK to hit net-zero include hydrogen as a vital component. That is why Government and industry are working on various projects across the UK.
Tim Harwood, Northern Gas Networks’ Project Director for H21 said: “Seeing the boilers in situ at Spadeadam is an exciting step in the journey to realising our goal of a gas network transporting 100% hydrogen to customers. The hydrogen boiler looks and feels just like the natural gas version we all have today and is just as user-friendly, showing that a transition could cause minimal disruption to customers.”
Dan Allason, Head of Research and Innovation, at DNV GL’s Spadeadam Research and Testing commented: “Eight out of ten homes in the UK use a gas boiler to heat their homes and provide hot water and replacing all gas boilers with electric alternatives could be extremely costly. Both of the boiler manufacturers have developed options with their hydrogen ready prototypes to assist the switch to a lower carbon alternative.
“Having these fitted to the HyStreet demonstration project at Spadeadam gives gravitas to the proof of concept and public acceptability of appliances such as these. The boilers are one of the first important steps.”
Baxi Heating’s Managing Director Karen Boswell added: “This is an important step forward on our hydrogen journey and we are delighted to be able to demonstrate this innovative new technology in a real life setting in the UK.”
Concluding, Carl Arntzen, CEO of Worcester Bosch, said: “It is fantastic to see our prototype hydrogen boiler running successfully at this demonstration site. The boiler has operated seamlessly in its first month of operation and continues to provide both heating and hot water.
“It proves that hydrogen gas has great potential as a zero-carbon alternative to natural gas for heating and hot water in the UK and beyond. These initial tests are incredibly encouraging and will hopefully give key decision makers confidence to deploy hydrogen gas as a fuel for the future.”
For more information on the potential of hydrogen gas boilers, visit:
Baxi Heating: https://www.baxiheating.co.uk/the-future-of-heat
Worcester Bosch: https://www.worcester-bosch.co.uk/hydrogen
Hy4Heat programme: https://www.hy4heat.info/
Worcester Bosch has recently published a white paper focused on decarbonisation and developing the practical adoption of the Government’s ‘Net Zero’ carbon target by 2050. Titled Fuelling the Future, the document outlines the challenge faced by the industry at large and assesses a number of the emerging technologies — including hydrogen-ready boilers, heat pumps and hybrid systems — that will all contribute to a cleaner environment.
Writing in the Executive Summary that introduces the white paper, Worcester Bosch CEO Carl Arntzen highlights the need for the industry to “roll up our sleeves and start putting plans into action” and also recognises that there “is unlikely to be one singular answer for all applications”. Consequently, Carl reports, there is a requirement for a broader analysis and an investigation into “how best certain heat generating sources may be more suited to certain property types over others”.
Accordingly, Worcester intends that the white paper has been produced to “give an honest, impartial and technology agnostic view on the benefits, advantages and suitable applications for the UK’s future domestic heating requirements”.
To download a copy of the Worcester Bosch Fuelling the Future white paper, visit https://professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk/news/worcester-bosch-publishes-whitepaper-fuelling-the-future/