Hydrogen could “nearly double” a home’s heating costs compared to gas.

Ministers’ plans to bank Britain’s energy hopes on hydrogen could almost double the cost of heating a home compared to natural gas by the end of the decade, research has shown.

According to leading energy analyst Cornwall Insight, using hydrogen to heat homes could prove to be a much more expensive option than natural gas. By 2050, when the UK has a legal obligation to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, using hydrogen would save around 70% of energy costs, according to the report, commissioned by the MCS Foundation, a renewable energy charity increase at home.

Jitendra Patel, Senior Consultant at Cornwall Insight said: “While hydrogen has a role to play in the decarbonisation journey, for example through deployment in industrial sectors and in the use of surplus electricity, current and projected costs show that it is easy to do uneconomical to use 100% hydrogen to heat our homes.”

Ministers are ready to allow the blending of hydrogen with fossil fuel gas in the UK’s gas networks to reduce CO2 emissions from domestic heating. They are also considering a possible large-scale introduction of hydrogen to power gas boilers in homes from 2026.

In the mini-budget presented by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday, there was a promise to advance five hydrogen infrastructure projects.

Proponents of hydrogen argue that the gas could easily be used to modernize the UK’s existing network of gas pipes and gas boilers, which make up the vast majority of home heating systems in most parts of the country.

However, serious concerns have been raised about the use of hydrogen, and some experts are warning of technical difficulties that may prove insurmountable.

Michael Liebreich, chairman of Liebreich Associates and founder of analyst firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance, has lashed out at “boiler-slingers” – the existing UK network of gas companies, plumbing firms and engineers – who see hydrogen as a way to maintain as much of the status as possible quo instead of switching to heat pumps and other proven low-carbon technologies.

Liebreich tweeted: “Heating with hydrogen from renewable energy is six times less efficient than using the same electricity in a heat pump. I don’t know of a single reputable energy analyst unaffiliated with the gas industry who thinks hydrogen heating is going to be a thing.”

There are also doubts about the low-carbon nature of some forms of hydrogen, as there are both “green” methods of producing hydrogen from renewable energy and “blue” methods of producing the gas from fossil fuels. The latter does not represent a saving in greenhouse gas emissions unless the resulting carbon dioxide is captured and stored.

However, these concerns have been largely drowned out by intense lobbying by fossil fuel companies, who see hydrogen as an alternative revenue stream, a way to redirect their existing resources and infrastructure to supposedly low-carbon uses.

According to separate estimates by the MCS Charitable Foundation, there are currently at least 120 paid hydrogen lobbyists in Parliament. Big energy companies like Shell and BP as well as a multitude of smaller companies and start-ups are promoting hydrogen as a green fuel.

Hydrogen lobbyists are also represented at the current Labor Party conference and are due to sponsor events at the Conservative Party conference from this weekend.

Cornwall Insight, whose widely used modeling forecast the large increases in energy price caps this year, found that adding hydrogen to gas would result in much smaller price increases for home heating, of around 5% in the short term and up to 2050. That would be a long time coming include the use of natural gas following Britain’s alleged move away from fossil fuels.

The five hydrogen infrastructure projects included in the government’s growth plan are: HyNet hydrogen pipeline; INOVYN hydrogen storage; hydrogen pipeline in the East Coast Cluster; Aldbrough hydrogen storage; and providing the hydrogen electrolyzer capacity.

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