Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been urged by experts from the energy industry to publish a consultation that would help the UK’s boiler industry manufacture hydrogen-ready gas boilers, as the UK scrambles to end its reliance on expensive natural gas. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has European countries into boosting their energy security, particularly as the cost of wholesale gas skyrocketed in the past year. The UK in particular was badly hit by the price increase, as the country is heavily dependent on gas for heating. To end this reliance on natural gas, many experts have called on the UK to phase out gas boilers for energy-efficient heat pumps, which use electricity.
However, heat pumps can be prohibitively expensive for many households, with the average price of the technology being around £13,000.
As a result, experts like Mike Foster from the Energy and Utilities Alliance have called on the Government to focus its efforts on developing hydrogen as a viable alternative to natural gas, which could eventually be pumped into the UK gas networks, and flow into household boilers.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “Firstly, what the new prime minister has to do is to deliver on what was promised by previous prime ministers as part of government policy to get us to net zero, so we don’t lose any more momentum.
“The consultation on hydrogen-ready boilers was promised in the ten-point plan, we understand that it was ready to be launched in 2021, and we have still not seen the consultation published by the Government.
“It is now a matter of urgency, they have to publish the consultation, let people respond and let us get going on what is a no-regrets option for the country.”
In the early months of the year, the Government held consultations on the viability of hydrogen in the UK’s boiler industry, including on whether companies should only make hydrogen-ready boilers.
Mr Foster said: “In the Truss premiership, we had several meetings to discuss this, and we were promised that any blockages in Whitehall would be freed up but that hasn’t happened.
“We would look to the new prime minister, and ministers in the energy team to actually make good on this promise, because it’s important for the UK as a whole.”
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“Industry is now just begging Government to just get on with it. It equips UK households with a boiler that can be converted into hydrogen should the Government wish to do that.
“It would mean that the overall cost of decarbonisation would be lower than it would otherwise. It’s a real win, everybody wants it, and we’re just waiting for the Government to publish the consultation document. It really isn’t difficult to do.”
He warned that any further delays could have consequences for British boilers manufacturers who have the ability to produce hydrogen-ready boilers and are ready for the next stage, which is a higher volume rollout.
He said: “If they think the Government is not serious, then they might find that they invest in something else. So we don’t see hydrogen-ready boilers made in the UK, they might be made elsewhere in the EU, and imported into the UK, which would be just nonsense.”
Another major risk of not phasing out natural gas in time is that it might delay the UK’s plans to reach its legally binding obligation to reach net zero by 2050.
Mr Foster said: “The second great risk is that we push down the line the timetable required to meet our net-zero international obligation for 2050.
“The sooner you can start the transition, the cheaper it will be for everybody, so the other risks are that to hit those targets, it might cost us more to make the transition in a shorter period of time.
“The longer the time we have to make those adjustments, the sooner we can start, the cheaper net zero will be. If you wait for the last five years, you’ll never afford it.”