Steve Fraser, chief executive officer at Cadent, shares his response to gas boiler ban for new homes in three years:
"It is, of course, not boilers themselves that are unsustainable, so much as the fossil fuel gas they currently burn. That fact is spurring exciting advances in hydrogen technology, which industry evidence suggests will be one of the best ways to tackle the environmental impact of heating our homes and other buildings. Cadent, as the UK’s largest gas distribution network, is involved in several R&D projects with industry partners to enable, in the near term, the blending of hydrogen with fossil gas and, in the long term, a full switch to 100% hydrogen.
Switching the gas grid from one type of gas to another has been done before: in the 1960s and ‘70s ‘town gas’ was replaced with natural gas. Repeating this kind of switch for hydrogen would avoid the disruption of millions of households needing to install alternative heating systems, allowing them to support net zero while continuing to use the gas heating that they know and appreciate.
Boiler manufacturers such as Worcester Bosch and Baxi have already developed prototype hydrogen-ready boilers and will be able to mass produce them at a cost comparable to standard boilers today. Typically, boilers have a lifespan of around fifteen years. With the right policies in place, every gas- connected home in Britain could, through this natural cycle of replacement, have a compatible boiler in less than twenty years, ready for a future switchover to hydrogen.
Britain benefits from one of the best developed gas networks in the world - around 85% of British homes are connected to the grid. To meet the challenge of net zero we will need to take full advantage of this incredible national asset.
A challenge of the scale set forward by the Prime Minister in his Ten Point Plan, will require substantial public engagement. Ensuring clarity by referring to the phase out of ‘Fossil Fuel boilers’ and the corresponding introduction of ‘hydrogen- ready’ boilers will help to build public understanding and acceptance."