Hydrogen’s role in heating our homes must be recognised – BEIS Committee Report reaction

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has released its latest report focusing on ‘Decarbonising heat in homes’. It follows an enquiry aiming to identify skills and policy gaps in the UK’s transition to net zero, tackling the challenging issue of decarbonising how we heat our homes.

The report calls for direction, clarity and coherence, with a range of policies needed in order to decarbonise homes in order to hit climate targets. The report explores extensively the role of heat pumps in decarbonising homes, detailing the challenges around low take-up rates; the skills gap holding rapid expansion back; and the need for financial support to transition to low-carbon heating.

Whilst the report makes recommendations for heat pumps and networks, it largely overlooks the future role of hydrogen in heating homes. As recognised by both BEIS and the Climate Change Committee (CCC), hydrogen is predicted to play a pivotal role in the UK’s decarbonisation, from use in energy-intensive industries and as a transport fuel, to a green alternative to gas boilers.

Already, work is underway to create demonstrator ‘hydrogen homes’ and blend hydrogen into the gas network, with further planned developments in 2022 including development of the first hydrogen villages.

The North West Hydrogen Alliance is writing to the Committee, encouraging its members to further explore the role hydrogen will play in heating and provide reassurance on several key issues such as safety and viability when rolling out to consumers.

 Professor Joe Howe, Chair of the North West Hydrogen Alliance and Executive Director, Energy Research Institute at the University of Chester, said:

“There’s no doubt that, in order to hit ambitious climate change targets, rapid change and progressive energy policies are needed – with challenges for both industries and communities. With the scale of the challenge laid out by the Committee, we can’t afford to gamble on one solution being the low carbon saviour, it’ll take multiple answers and a genuine energy mix.

“It’s surprising that hydrogen features so little in the decarbonising heat report, particularly given the extensive, ongoing work to build a UK hydrogen economy, and demonstrate that its use for heat is safe, affordable and viable for consumers.

“The Government should continue to embrace hydrogen as an answer to net zero. It’s repeatedly been shown that it could be key to both promoting consumer choice – as an alternative to heat pump installation – and increasing energy security and resilience.

“Given the current climate and debate around our reliance on overseas sources, a domestic hydrogen supply could be key to not only the net zero mission, but stability in energy bills for homes and energy-intensive industries alike.”