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Hydrogen: The future fuel for boilers?

Did you know that 31% of all household emissions come from our central heating?₁ This is why the drive for decarbonisation of heat in UK homes and the Government’s 2050 net zero target has focused the heating industry on researching greener alternatives to natural gas.

Since 1874, Vaillant has been manufacturing heating appliances, adapting the technology as the gas supply and the mix of gas has developed and changed over the years, particularly in the UK. That’s why Vaillant are perfectly placed to lead the transition into hydrogen once the industry is ready.

There is no silver bullet to decarbonising the UK, there will be a mixture of both hydrogen boilers and heat pumps depending on the type of property.

If you would like more information on what heat pumps could be right for your property click here

Hydrogen: The facts right now

Trials for hydrogen are ongoing in the UK, the industry has a number of steps to make before hydrogen can be delivered to our doorsteps, such as how we create and store hydrogen in the most efficient and climate neutral way.

Below is a map which highlights some of the projects that are currently in progress in the UK:

The difference between 20% hydrogen and hydrogen-ready

Today we are researching two methods to use hydrogen in our heating:

20% Hydrogen: This is blending up to 20% hydrogen into our current natural gas grid network which could save around 7% CO2 emissions. A blend of 20% hydrogen could be rolled out from 2023 if all the trials are successful. We are currently testing all existing condensing boilers to ensure they operate correctly with this mix of gas.

Hydrogen-ready: This is using 100% hydrogen in our existing gas network. This is a much longer roll out process and is designed to ultimately replace natural gas. For 100% hydrogen to heat homes, homeowners will need to upgrade their boilers to a hydrogen-ready boiler, this transition will be a natural progression once hydrogen-ready boilers are available on the market. Manufacturers are looking to launch hydrogen-ready boilers from 2025 these will work using natural gas initially and after a small adjustment can be converted to hydrogen. However, the first hydrogen town will be 2030 and so the reality could be that a hydrogen-ready boiler installed in 2025 might see its end of life before hydrogen is supplied to that home.

When will hydrogen be available to my doorstep?

Being at the forefront of technology is something we at Vaillant pride ourselves on, which is why we invest significantly in R&D. With every legislative change that is made, you can be assured Vaillant will deliver the technology to suit.

The UK will not see widescale supply of hydrogen to the doorstep of UK homes for many years. This is because the UK is awaiting the necessary strategies from the Government which will drive investment and infrastructure upgrades which are needed to see the delivery of hydrogen to homes.

In the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, released in November 2020, the ambition was set to create the first hydrogen neighbourhood in 2023, the first hydrogen village in 2025 and the first hydrogen town in 2030.

Manufacturers are looking to launch hydrogen-ready boilers from 2025. However, considering the first hydrogen town will be 2030, the reality could be that a hydrogen-ready boiler installed in 2025 might see its end of life before hydrogen is supplied to that home.

So, put simply, many UK homes may not see hydrogen gas until well past 2030.

If you’re looking to decarbonise your home heating today, we recommend fitting a Vaillant heat pump.