Hydrogen or heat pump? The battle of the boilers is hotting up. A revolution is about to take place in the way we warm our homes — and two opposing sides are in the pipeline to provide the greener alternative. The decision on how your home is heated may soon be between a hydrogen boiler and an electric heat pump, and the manufacturers of both are positioning themselves as the successor to natural gas, an industry that sells 1.7 million boilers in the UK each year. The former chancellor Philip Hammond, an unlikely revolutionary, triggered this frenzy in March 2019, when he announced that no newly built homes could be connected to the gas network from 2025. Boris Johnson added to the urgency in December with the publication of an energy white paper that announced that by the mid-2030s gas boilers would be phased out altogether. The document said that the nation’s climate commitments meant that gas boilers — burning naturally occurring gas, comprising methane and other hydrocarbons, and responsible for 30 per cent of the country’s emissions — had no future as a domestic heating source. A new heat and buildings strategy is expected in May, along with the Treasury’s net-zero review the same month and the hydrogen strategy before the summer. Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the government, insists that the polarisation of the debate is unhelpful. “This is a phony war,” he says. “These format wars are deeply counter-productive, because in reality we’re going to need a mixture of technical solutions. But the crucial thing is, how do we plan for that?” Stark believes that solutions will be regional. On the east coast, for example, hydrogen is likely to play a key role in heating homes. In large cities, such as Glasgow, which have very particular housing types in the form of tenement flats, district heating systems would be better suited. And in rural areas, ground-source heat pumps may be the best option.
Times 18th April 2021 read more »