Blending hydrogen into the natural gas grid will push up prices for consumers more than it will decarbonise home heating, the government has been warned.
A report by the government’s hydrogen champion, Jane Toogood, published last month, includes a recommendation that ministers make a ‘strategic decision’ this year to support blending of hydrogen into the gas transmission network. The government is currently exploring whether to increase the cap on hydrogen in the gas network from its current proportion of 0.1% to 20%.
However, a letter to Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, coordinated by environmental think-tank E3G and signed by a coalition of 20 companies and industry bodies, reject’s Toogood’s recommendation. It says that, because hydrogen is more expensive than natural gas, a 20% blend will raise prices.
In addition, because hydrogen has lower energy content than natural gas, consumers will have to burn 16% more of the blended mix to create the same output of heat. This lower calorific value means fuel prices will rise by at least 16%, while savings in terms of greenhouse emissions will be 7%.
‘Blending could create greenwash, as the public are told that “gas has gone green”, when, in fact, “hydrogen-ready boilers” will continue to burn fossil fuels for decades to come,’ says the letter. It also brands the report’s claim that heat pumps are not a viable solution for all properties, ‘such as hard-to-insulate properties’, as ‘potentially misleading’. It says it has been disproven by the government-funded Energy Systems Catapult Electrification of Heat project, report published last month.