Swap gas boilers for hydrogen or miss emission targets, UK told

(The Guardian, 22 Nov 2018) Households need electric and hydrogen hybrid boilers sooner rather than later, climate advisers warn.

Millions of gas boilers will need to be replaced with hydrogen alternatives and coupled with electric heating devices if Britain is to hit its carbon targets at the lowest cost, according to the government’s climate advisers.

In a report on the role hydrogen could play in the energy system, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) spelt out the huge but necessary cost the country faces to switch to green heating.

The cheapest scenario, it said, is a mix of electrifying heating and fitting hydrogen boilers, and will cost the UK £28bn a year, or 0.7% of GDP, by 2050.

While electricity supplies are rapidly switching to low-carbon sources, almost all homes today rely on fossil fuels – predominantly natural gas – for heating and cooking.

The public is largely unaware of the alternatives, said the report, and consumer understanding is “far from where it would need to be” before decisions on decarbonising heating are made in the 2020s.

While householders can keep their radiators, the CCC envisages that in future they will need to live in much more energy efficient homes with heat pumps that use electricity to draw heat from the ground or air, running alongside gas boilers.

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The Guardian, 22 Nov 2018: Swap gas boilers for hydrogen or miss emission targets, UK told