Energy ministry D-ESNZ is turning down the heat under plans to run a town-scale pilot to heat homes by hydrogen alone this decade.

in December the ministry also cancelled progression of a village-scale hydrogen trial at Winlaton near Redcar, pictured.

Officials now believe the low carbon gas, in either its fossil-fuel-derived blue hue, or the cleaner green variety electrolysed with wind-generated electricity, may have a role to play in heat decarbonisation, but in slower time and in only ‘some’ locations.

D-ESNZ plans to take a final decision in 2026, after assessing evidence including from a neighbourhood-scale hydrogen trial in Fife and other studies across Europe.

Britain’s four main operators of gas networks have lobbied Whitehall hard for hydrogen to be viewed as a panacea, a high convenience, low cost replacement for methane-heavy, climate-wrecking ‘natural’ gas in Britain’s 30 million homes.

In October 2022, the then D-BEIS ministry invited the four to commit to operational trials, leading to mass deployment.  All four responded with business plans.

But the hydrogen drive had been opposed as impractical, manipulative and still polluting by advocates for electric heat.

One immediately welcomed Whitehall’s backtracking yesterday.  James Standley, chief technical officer of Truro-based Kensa, Britain’s only manufacturer of heat pumps, and a company part-owned by Octopus Energy,  said abandoning the village-scale trial was “further recognition that hydrogen has no major role to play in future home heating”.

“Every academic study on the issue, the economics and the physics demonstrates this”, Standley went on. “The government should now take the next logical step and rule out hydrogen heating for anything other than a small number of very specific cases.

Electrification, whether via heat pumps or heat networks, remains the best and quickest way to achieve clean heat while ensuring the best outcomes for consumers, Standley opined.

“The longer hydrogen remains part of the conversation”, the Kensa boss said, “the further the transition will be delayed, hampering the speed at which these already proven technologies are rolled out.”


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