If you’re shopping around for a new boiler, no doubt you have many questions and concerns, especially after reading about the gas boiler ban and the Government’s plan to phase out the installation of fossil fuel heating in new build homes by 2025.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the gas boiler ban in more depth and we’ll also talk about the hydrogen boiler timeline and costs. Lastly, we’ll explain what the gas boiler ban means for you and your home.
About the gas boiler ban
The UK has pledged to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and become a carbon-neutral nation. With one-third of the UK’s CO2 emissions coming from heating our homes, it’s clear that to achieve the carbon-neutral target, change is coming to the heating industry.
In the Heat and Buildings Strategy, the Government has set out its intention to phase out all fossil fuel-based heating systems, including gas boilers, oil boilers etc.
Specifically, the plan will start by phasing out fossil fuel systems in homes that aren’t connected to the Gas Grid. The Government’s ambition is to set an end date of 2026 for the installation of fossil fuel heating in homes off the gas grid, and non-domestic buildings from 2024.
It’s not hard to see the reasons why. A report published by the IEA (International Energy Agency) suggests that using oil or gas for heating homes is responsible for about 20% of total carbon dioxide emissions in the UK and the US. (source: inews).
To tackle this issue, the UK Government has proposed the following plan:
Phasing out the installation of fossil fuel heating in homes off the gas grid
There are around four million households that aren’t connected to the Gas Grid, and the basis of the Government’s plan to reduce their carbon emissions is:
- To end the installation of new fossil fuel heating in homes off the gas grid from 2026.
- A ‘heat pump first’ approach to replacement heating systems from 2026.
- To introduce high performing replacement heating systems where heat pumps cannot reasonably practicably be installed.
There are concerns regarding the affordability of heat pumps. However, as part of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, the UK Government is setting an ambition of working with the industry to reduce upfront costs of installing a heat pump by 25-50% by 2025 and to achieve cost parity between heat pumps and gas boilers by 2030.
And for the rest…
Gas boilers will be replaced by low-carbon heating systems in all new homes built after 2025 in an attempt to tackle the escalating climate crisis. This gas and oil ban in 2025 only applies to newbuild properties.
On the other hand, the ban on the sale of new gas boilers (for existing homes) was initially set to take effect in 2035, which can be a bit of a challenge!
‘Gas boilers will no longer be installed in new builds from 2025, but they can still be installed in existing UK homes until 2035.’
The shift to Hydrogen as a source of fuel
According to the National Grid:
Hydrogen has the potential to be a low-carbon alternative to gas in our homes and businesses, but first we need to test this fuel for the future. That’s where FutureGrid comes in.
The majority of households in the UK (85%) use central gas heating to heat their homes. The problem is that burning this gas produces carbon dioxide (CO2) – a greenhouse gas. When carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere, it contributes to climate change.
However, using hydrogen as a fuel source will produce the same level of heat energy, but with water vapour as the waste product.
Another advantage of hydrogen is that it can utilise the current gas grid, meaning taxpayers wouldn’t have to cover the expense and endure the disruption of the creation of an entirely new fuel supply network. The gas network currently supplies 85% of UK homes, so it would make sense to use it to deliver hydrogen.
With over 20 million boilers in the UK, replacing them with anything other than hydrogen would cause massive disruption and cost. So how far towards this hydrogen future have we got already?
Hydrogen development timeline
What’s happened so far?
- July 2019 – Opening of H21 Test Facility
4th July 2019 saw the opening of a unique hydrogen testing facility at the HSE Science and Research Centre in Buxton. H21, the world’s largest project to reduce carbon emissions, is the first testing facility for 100% hydrogen.
- November 2020 – Government release 10 Point Plan
The Government’s 10 Point Plan laid out the move to boost hydrogen production with plans for a hydrogen village, town, and eventually, city to aid the wholescale transition to hydrogen across the UK.
- December 2020 – Government release Energy White Paper
Issued by BEIS, the Energy White paper set out specific steps for the government to take over the next decade to cut carbon emissions and support 220,000 jobs in the industry.
- August 2021 – Hydrogen Strategy Paper
The Hydrogen Strategy Paper reveals the Government’s intentions for hydrogen and how extensive its use will be in achieving net-zero by 2050.
- August 2021 – HyDeploy North East (Winlaton, nr. Gateshead)
Following a successful trial where a 20% hydrogen blend was introduced into the natural gas supply at Keele University, a hydrogen blend is being tested in Winlaton, which comprises 668 homes, a church, a primary school, and several small businesses.
- October 2021 – Government release Heat and Buildings Strategy
The Heat and Buildings Strategy pledges £3.9bn in new funding to decarbonise heat and buildings including a £5k subsidy towards heat pump installation as part of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (thought to be a new name for the Clean Heat Grant, which in turn replaced the renewable heat incentive).
- November 2021 – COP 26
The annual UN Climate Change Conference takes place in November in Glasgow, where world leaders meet to discuss how to combat the climate crisis.
What's happening next?
- 2023-2027 – H100 Trial in Fife Begins
The H100 project in Buckhaven, Fife will start with 300 homes, supplied with 100% hydrogen fuel for cooking and heating. This will be increased to 1,000 homes as the project continues.
- 2025 – Gas boilers banned from new build properties
Gas boilers will no longer be installed in new builds from 2025.
Gas boilers can still be installed in UK homes until 2035.
- 2025 – H2 Village Trial to begin
The H2 trial will involve a statistically representative customer base of up to 2,000 occupied homes, offices, and other buildings, all using 100% hydrogen for a period of at least 12 months People living and working in the chosen properties can use hydrogen for their heating, hot water, and cooking.
- 2030 – Hydrogen wider adoption to 3m UK homes
5GW of hydrogen production targeted for 2035 and the creation of 9,000 jobs in the hydrogen industry. Hydrogen will be delivered to the entire town as the fuel source to continue testing at scale.
- 2050 – Hydrogen supplies 25 – 35% of UK energy usage
By 2050 it is estimated that hydrogen will supply between 25-35% of the U.K’s energy. The percentage will then increase as the production of hydrogen is scaled up.
About Hydrogen boilers
Ever the boiler innovator, Worcester Bosch has released their prototype hydrogen boiler – a model able to run on both gas and hydrogen.
If hydrogen as a fuel source was viable it would mean that the exemplary UK gas grid could still be utilised as it would be able to pipe hydrogen instead of gas.
The hybrid boiler prototype would be able to run on gas until such time as the switch over to hydrogen happens.
Hydrogen boilers represent an incredibly clean fuel source as the by-product of burning hydrogen gas is water, ie; there are no carbon emissions.
The cost of switching to hydrogen from a consumer point of view would be minimal.
Hydrogen boilers are basically adapted gas boilers. So engineers would be trained in how to switch over a gas boiler but beyond a certain point, only hybrid boilers would be sold in readiness for the switch.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has commissioned ARUP, an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists to look into the feasibility of using hydrogen as a primary fuel source in a 3-year study known as Hy4Heat.
ARUP in their publication ‘Energy Systems: A View from 2035’ see hydrogen playing a big part in future heating with Steam Methane Reformers (SMR’s) being built along the coast to produce the majority of the required hydrogen with the rest being created from water by electrolysis using low-cost renewable electricity.
Hydrogen represents the least disruptive, most reliable and most environmentally-friendly option that could feasibly be rolled out in the years to come. With the study set to take place over the next 3 years, no decision will be forthcoming in the short term but it’s an exciting prospect.
If all goes well in the safety studies undertaken in the Hy4Heat project then an exciting £600m project will be tested in Liverpool and Manchester by Cadent, who currently run gas connections to 50% of UK homes.
Hydrogen boiler prototypes
Mid 2021, the first 100% hydrogen boilers were made available for the public to go and see in the first Hydrogen House Project.
Baxi Heating and Worcester Bosch prototype boilers are being used in the UK’s first public demonstration of a 100% hydrogen home.
The Hydrogen House project aims to show the use of hydrogen appliances in a real-world setting for heating, hot water and cooking.
Northern Gas Networks and Cadent have partnered up in building semi-detached properties at NGN’s Low Thornley site, near Gateshead.
In addition to boilers being on show, hydrogen-fuelled fires, cookers and hobs have also been installed by partners working with BEIS and Hy4Heat.
Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Baxi Heating UK and Ireland has said:
We are hugely proud to be a part of another ground-breaking hydrogen heating project and remain at the forefront of low-carbon development.
Carl Arntzen, CEO of Worcester Bosch also said:
The Hydrogen House project will help spearhead the safe implementation of hydrogen gas into the gas network and ultimately our homes. The trials underway there are an important step towards a zero-carbon future and we’re proud that our hydrogen boiler prototype is playing a pivotal par
Hydrogen boiler demonstration project
In June 2022, Vaillant hydrogen boiler was featured in a new demonstration project. The project sees 100% hydrogen demonstration for domestic home heating using the existing gas network. The project aims to provide valuable insights, which will be used in the next steps of the UK Government’s hydrogen rollout, ‘the hydrogen village.’
Can I buy a hydrogen boiler?
As of early 2022, you cannot buy a hydrogen boiler. As there is no hydrogen fuel supply currently going through the gas grid there wouldn’t be any point in owning a hydrogen boiler.
Worcester Bosch, Ideal, Baxi, Vaillant, and Viessmann have all created ‘hydrogen-ready’ boilers which are currently being tested in real-life simulations. A hydrogen-ready boiler is a system that can operate on natural gas and then be converted by a qualified engineer to operate safely and efficiently on hydrogen within an hour. Worcester Bosch has called for all boilers installed after 2025 to be hydrogen ready, so when/if the time comes to switch to hydrogen – the U.K will be ready.Hydrogen-ready boilers are slightly different from ‘hydrogen blend ready’ boilers.Hydrogen blend-ready boilers are able to run on a blend of 20% hydrogen and 80% natural gas blends of fuel.
How much will hydrogen boilers cost?
Initially, it was thought that hydrogen boilers would be £100 – £200 more expensive than their gas boiler counterparts, but four industry-leading manufacturers (Ideal, Baxi, Worcester Bosch, and Vaillant) have agreed to keep the hydrogen boiler prices the same as gas boilers.
Gas boiler installation costs vary from company to company but you can expect to pay between £1500 – £2500 (with installation) depending on the boiler type you need and the brand you choose.
Mike Foster, chief executive of the boiler industry trade body, the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), said “Our own research tells us that consumers want to do their bit to reduce the impact of their homes and help deliver a greener future, but are concerned about the cost of some low carbon technologies. This price-promise from the ‘big four’ ensures that consumers will be able to access an affordable low carbon heat and hot water solution.”
Given the volatility in energy prices and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the heating industry, it’s encouraging that an environmentally friendly option is being developed and furthermore, that it is being backed by the largest boiler manufacturers in the UK.
Installing a hydrogen boiler is one part of the cost, however, the cost of hydrogen fuel is currently an unknown element as it isn’t yet produced in large enough quantities.
Hydrogen is a very efficient fuel source. 1kg of hydrogen contains the same amount of energy as 2.8kg of petrol. So, if the means of production can be figured out and economy of scale obtained, then hydrogen could end up being a reasonably priced fuel source. Especially when compared to gas prices which continue to rise.
Hydrogen boiler pros and cons
Looking to get a new boiler before the gas boiler ban?
If you’re shopping around for a new boiler, we’d advise using the WarmZilla boiler comparison tool. Just select up to 3 boilers you want to compare, and you’ll be able to compare key stats side by side to see which boiler is best for your home.
You can also take the WarmZilla survey. By answering a few simple questions about your home, we will be able to recommend suitable boilers for your heating and hot water requirements. You can get a quote on a new boiler in just a few minutes without adding any personal details!
Here at WarmZilla, our mission is to give you all the help and support you’ll need to find the best boiler for your home at the best price, that’s why we’ve written blogs about the best combi boilers, best system boilers and best conventional boilers in 2022. So make sure to check them out!