Developing domestic hydrogen appliances ‘needs strong policy direction’

Developing domestic appliances such as boilers and cookers that use 100 per cent hydrogen instead of natural gas is possible with “strong policy direction” from government.

A new report published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) looked at the feasibility of developing domestic hydrogen appliances in order to support the conversion of the gas grid to low carbon hydrogen. The report explores factors including cost, technical challenges and how barriers might be addressed.

The research, led by Kiwa Gastec, found that the industry has taken a “positive approach” when considering the development and production of hydrogen fuelled appliances, and “most are keen to be actively engaged”.

Industry agreed that a planned and stage-wise approach would be needed to confirm long-term performance before any mass rollout, but that with government support (at a suggested level of 50 per cent), a clear policy plan and funding, manufacturers could gain confidence and reassurance.

Manufacturers were also confident that appliances can be designed and manufactured for prices at volume, similar to today’s appliances.

The report also highlighted that any rollout of hydrogen must be “mutually agreed between the Gas Distribution Network Operators, regulators and government. Some appliance manufacturers suggested that contracts should be managed to allow a range of suppliers to enter the market in order to develop a competitive and sustainable supply chain.

Kiwa accepts that a considerable investment in infrastructure and commitment of engineering capacity is required for product development and industry will need to feel confident to make these investments for such a “high risk venture”.

Appliances designed to burn hydrogen should also be independent tested to standards extended for hydrogen to ensure that they function safely and effectively.

The report added that national installer groups including British Gas and Carillion should be involved at an early stage since boilermakers expressed a strong interest in hydrogen from the perspective of driving ahead a new product that would retain their UK based links and giving UK manufacturing sites good potential to export hydrogen technology.