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Hydrogen Ready Boilers & The Cost Of EV Infrastructure

August 17, 2021

By Paul Homewood



h/t Ian Magness


The Government has now published its new hydrogen strategy:




The sale of new boilers that run exclusively on natural gas could be banned by 2026 in the UK’s push to hit climate goals.

The Government is consulting on plans to make sure that all new boilers are capable of running on hydrogen instead.

Hydrogen does not produce carbon dioxide when burned and ministers hope it could supply up to 35pc UK’s energy by 2050.

Tests are ongoing to determine whether it can be used safely and effectively to replace natural gas in UK homes.

In a new hydrogen strategy unveiled on Tuesday, officials said: “We aim to consult later this year on the case for enabling, or requiring, new natural gas boilers to be easily convertible to use hydrogen (‘hydrogen-ready’) by 2026.”

A ban on sales of new natural gas-only boilers would add to existing plans to stop these boilers from being installed in new-build homes by 2025.

As I reported earlier, the main plank entails the launching of a Contracts for Difference type scheme, similar to the one used for offshore wind power, to subsidise producers of hydrogen. The cost of this subsidy will likely get added to energy bills.

Hydrogen-ready boilers have long been talked about as the first step in the process, and would make little difference to the cost of the boiler. But this misses the real point, that it will cost tens of billions setting up a hydrogen distribution and storage network and more still on converting household appliances. On top of that, of course, the hydrogen  produced will inevitably cost several times more than natural gas. That of course is precisely why producers will need to be massively subsidised.

But what intrigued me was this embedded image in the Telegraph article:





I have not seen any figures like this before, but a total of £93.9bn just for infrastructure for EVs is truly horrifying. Forget about the DT’s silly “in comparisons”, amounts to £3500 for every home in the country. And most of this will have to spent in the coming few years, ready for the surge in new electric cars.

These and all the other costs of Net Zero truly are the elephant in the room, that the Rachel Millards of the world don’t want to discuss. Instead, all they do is whittle on about carbon dioxide.

  1. Cheshire Red permalink
    August 17, 2021 4:49 pm

    This is criminal levels of ineptitude.

    Self-charging hybrids would need almost none of the above infrastructure whilst providing most of the ‘carbon’ cuts.

    Perhaps a home or business-based charging kit supplied and fitted as part of a new car price. (a few hundred quid?)

    Instead, untold billions are talked of as if they’re just pennies. There’s total lunacy everywhere in UK politics.

  2. Barrie Emmett permalink
    August 17, 2021 5:00 pm

    These policies become more ridiculous by the day. The only constant is the added cost to the consumer. What is the cost and infrastructure required to produce the hydrogen.

  3. Ian PRSY permalink
    August 17, 2021 5:02 pm

    I hope “whittle” doesn’t need a translation, Paul. Sounds dramatic surely but natural gas will still be powering the vast majority of heating systems will beyond the end-of-manufacture-of-natural-gas-only boilers date, giving people time to see what a joke the proposal is before too much damage is done.

  4. Ray Sanders permalink
    August 17, 2021 5:07 pm

    For what it is worth I have just emailed my local Conservative Party office advising them I will not vote for them again in my current constituency (Canterbury – Labour held on account of the highest proportion of students to residents of any city in the world) all the time they are following these lunatic policies. I have also emailed the MP for a neighbouring seat (Craig MacKinlay) offering him my support.
    This madness has to stop.

  5. August 17, 2021 5:07 pm

    So unless there’s a completely new hydrogen distribution network (very expensive, and would take decades), a boiler conversion to hydrogen just cannot work. What would happen if I had one but my neighbour didn’t, as you can’t mix the 2 gases in the same pipe! Also, what do I do with my gas hob if my boiler is converted to hydrogen – still the ‘same pipe’ problem!! And have politicians yet realised that the hydrogen cycle incurs energy losses of approx 70%, i.e. only 30% is recoverable for use? Why are folk even pretending this is a serious suggestion?

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      August 17, 2021 5:24 pm

      The use of hydrogen derived from electrolysis of water with electricity derived from renewables for direct combustion as a source of heating is pure lunacy. It borders on barking at the moon to make it go away. You know that, I know that and anyone with enough brain cells to have a synapse knows that. But then again have you ever read the comments section on the Guardian? There are more voters out there with the scientific nous of the average fungus….and then there are politicians with even lower levels of understanding.

      • T Walker permalink
        August 17, 2021 5:56 pm

        Ray – may I give you my respect. I simply could not manage to read the Guardian and certainly not the comments sections. Very brave.

        MInd you the DT is going the same way!

      • Tonyb permalink
        August 17, 2021 9:04 pm

        As the supposed benefits of a hydrogen vehicle is that only water comes out of the tailpipe, presumably a hydrogen boiler will aso need some sort of outlet for water?

        Bearing in mind that water vapour at 40000 ppm is by far the largest greenhouse gas, does anyone know whether burning of hydrogen in potentially millions of cars and millions of boilers will have any impacts on atmospheric water vapour amounts?

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 17, 2021 9:13 pm

        In reply to Tonyb, the only emissions from hydrogen combustion in air being water vapour is a complete myth. Air is 79% nitrogen and the flame temperature of hydrogen is way above the temperature where the surrounding nitrogen readily combines with oxygen to form various nitrous oxides. Hydrogen combustion is anything but straightforward…but you are not supposed to know that.,of%20controlling%20CO2%20emissions.

      • August 17, 2021 9:24 pm

        Interesting. I note “the higher flame speed increases the flame temperature locally, which can generate high levels of NOx”, but considering the current diesel NOx fiasco, isn’t promising. Can you imagine a politician having to explain away an approx 70% energy loss in the hydrogen cycle AND increased NOx emissions?

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 18, 2021 8:29 pm

        Joe Public, “hydrogen’s energy flow-rate capacity per unit volume along pipelines and pipework (at an unchanged pressure) is 80% that of Nat Gas”
        So you are saying that hydrogen flows at an 80% LOWER rate than methane.
        You also acknowledge it has a lower energy density than methane by volume.
        So I am at a loss to understand your remark that its flow rate somehow offsets its lower calorific value.

      • Joe Public permalink
        August 18, 2021 8:40 pm

        Ray Sanders – August 18, 2021 8:29 pm

        “So you are saying that hydrogen flows at an 80% LOWER rate than methane.”

        No. Hydrogen’s energy flow-rate capacity per unit volume along pipelines and pipework (at an unchanged pressure) is 80% that of Nat Gas – i.e. 20% lower.

      • Joe Public permalink
        August 18, 2021 8:46 pm

        Ray Sanders – August 18, 2021 8:29 pm

        See “Conversion of the UK gas system to transport hydrogen”

        “2.4. Energy delivery and energy storage capacity of the network

        The energy carrying capacity of hydrogen is about 20–30% less for a pipeline of the same pipe diameter and pressure drop than for natural gas [17], [45], despite the much lower volumetric energy density of hydrogen being offset by a much higher flow rate. This means that the hydrogen energy transmission capacity at an unchanged pressure is approximately 20% lower than the UK annual average calorific value of 39.5 MJ/m3 for natural gas”

    • Duker permalink
      August 18, 2021 12:40 am

      The old Town gas ( from Coal) was 50% Hydrogen.

      Obviously the way ahead for this crazy scheme is to introduce H2 back into the current system and convert the burners area by area. No conversion no gas.

      • Joe Public permalink
        August 18, 2021 10:13 am

        Tony B – August 17, 2021 9:04 pm

        “As the supposed benefits of a hydrogen vehicle is that only water comes out of the tailpipe, presumably a hydrogen boiler will aso need some sort of outlet for water?”

        All modern boilers can ‘condense’ (i.e. to scrub the maximum amount of heat available from the fuel)

        Consequently, they all have a condensate waste pipe connected to a drain.

        Imagine if that condensate was collected and recycled as the *primary* feedstock for hydrogen electrolysis! A truly circular energy economy.
        FAOD /sarc

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 18, 2021 12:26 pm

        The issue here is one of energy density. Whilst hydrogen has a much higher energy density than methane by MASS, it has less than one third of the energy density by volume. Methane 0.0378MJ/L versus hydrogen 0.01005(LHV) MJ/L. Gas is distributed and sold by volume. Those, like me, who remember Town Gas also remember it was rather feeble stuff compared to the natural gas which superseded it simply because it was up to 50% hydrogen. In those days very few homes had gas central heating and town gas was principally used for cooking and originally lighting.
        The supply pressure did not change significantly and any attempt to increase the delivery pressure to compensate for the low energy value would be staggeringly expensive.
        My combi boiler is rated at 42kW on methane, at 100% hydrogen it would be rendered pretty much useless. Even 20% hydrogen reduces the calorific value of the gas by 15% by volume.

      • Joe Public permalink
        August 18, 2021 6:22 pm

        Ray Sanders – August 18, 2021 12:26 pm

        “Gas is distributed and sold by volume.”

        Gas is bought for its energy not volume.

        A gas meter measures volume, and that volume is then ‘corrected’ to Standard Conditions of temperature, pressure, and altitude. That corrected volume is multiplied by the gas’s volumetric calorific value to calculate the kWh supplied.

        Gas (in UK) is priced at p/kWh supplied.

        However, hydrogen’s energy flow-rate capacity per unit volume along pipelines and pipework (at an unchanged pressure) is 80% that of Nat Gas. (Its much lower volumetric energy density is partially offset by a higher volumetric flow rate.)

  6. August 17, 2021 5:10 pm

    (Paul, time to add ‘Gab’ and ‘Telegram’ post links?)

  7. Gerry, England permalink
    August 17, 2021 5:24 pm

    And where is the electricity coming to charge these battery cars given how fast we are removing generating capacity and are at least a decade behind on small nuclear reactors while nobody will invest in a gas plant in the current situation?

    • August 17, 2021 9:11 pm

      I am quite sure we can rely on you and other patriots to give up electricty for lent. Then as the shortage bites we might need to turn the screw a bit. Do you really need electricty in June and July?

  8. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    August 17, 2021 6:10 pm

    Utter, utter insanity from Mr Nut Nut PM.

    • August 17, 2021 6:11 pm

      Or is it Mrs Nut Nut driving the agenda?

    • August 18, 2021 8:06 pm

      Another person who is clueless about how UK government. By himself the PM has virtually no power. And please stop with the incredibly juvenile name calling. “nut nut” just makes you sound like a 5 year old

  9. GeoffB permalink
    August 17, 2021 6:44 pm

    This is not going to work! Anyone with the slightest knowledge of physics/chemistry can see straight through the twisted logic of this proposal, it reeks of desperation to come up with some reason to ditch natural gas (methane) in favour of hydrogen. Subsidising this fairytale with levies on our energy bills is just going to waste billions on get rich schemes by the Gores, Granthams, Lord Debdens of the climate hysteria world. I wonder if the eco loons at XR realise they are just campaigning for increased taxation?

  10. Harry Passfield permalink
    August 17, 2021 7:03 pm

    Unbelievably, cretinous decision-making: that the (government – a TORY government!!) organisation which CANNOT even get smart meters installed would even think about being able to run a project to get tens of thousands of boilers changed in any one gas area (let alone the entire country). This means, assuming ALL those who want to continue getting heating and cooking on the netowork, isolating existing gas users from their natural gas network while it is converted to take H2; testing ALL of it for leaks; and then, reconnecting all the new H2 boilers – but NONE of the old ones (very important point) – and then – and THEN – testing each house has the correct feed, pressure, facility and SAFETY. All within the few weeks when households can afford to be without heating and cooking (don’t forget, gas cookers will also need to be converted – don’t hear that from the government!).
    I remember two previous major system resets: town gas to NS gas: change to gas jets in boilers and cookers; and: retuning TVs for the dislodged Ch 5. But neither of these will be anything like the needs of converting houses to H2 while allowing them to keep cooking and heating. Both very simple and no trouble to users.
    You might as well say that the government has discovered the wrong kind of asphalt on the motorways and needs to rip them up and relay them!

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      August 17, 2021 7:33 pm

      Paul, sorry, Please delete above failed comment. Ta

  11. Bill Jefferson permalink
    August 17, 2021 7:49 pm

    Am I missing something? I thought that the most potent greenhouse gas in the atmospere was H2O. This is the product of burning hydrogen. Therefore this policy would increase warming faster than CO2 is claimed to.

    • dave permalink
      August 18, 2021 8:33 am

      “Am I missing something?”

      Yes.. An addition of water vapour would not stay in the atmosphere long enough to matter. The residence time of water, picked up by winds over the sea as vapour, before it liquifies and forms clouds and then returns to the surface of the sea as rain is about ten days. Of course any wind which comes onto land loses its associated moisture even quicker than this. Which is why the East of England is said to be in ‘the rain shadow’ of the West of England.

      As always, water is the super-special substance of nature.

      Carbon dioxide can not ‘rain out’ in this way, because on this planet it is always far above the temperature at which it liquifies. The same for nitrogen, oxygen, etc.

  12. Jack Broughton permalink
    August 17, 2021 7:52 pm

    According to the Gov.UK web-release, the new technology will create 900 jobs by 2030 and bring in £4 b inward investment to produce 5 GW hydrogen. They value the hydrogen at £ 900m. If this hydrogen is made electrolytically its present cost at £ 140 / MWh would be 5000 x 8760 x £ 140 = £ 6.1b (100% efficiency). The subsidy, i.e. tax increase would be about £ 4b, and this to supply 5% UK natural gas needs. The cost of plant for hydrogen manufacture by electrolysis is the cost of the associated windfarm + the cost of the hydrogen electrolysis plant. Offshore wind is costing over £ 4 m /MWe, so 5 GW > £ 20 b+ electrolysis plant. The £ 4b looks very light, it must be a CCC estimate that will have been lost over the least few days.

    The main beneficiaries from this largesse that the government lists include the Carbon Trust and other worthies. The CCC are called an “independent” organisation too!

  13. Gamecock permalink
    August 17, 2021 7:56 pm

    Hydrogen only boilers should be called V2s. You will have random explosions all over the place.

    Unlike gas leaks, hydrogen leaks can’t be smelled. And hydrogen is way more leaky than nat gas. It seems government will force the spending of tens of billions for that which will be quickly withdrawn.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      August 17, 2021 8:20 pm

      Natural gas is also odourless, needing Mercaptans adding, so will hydrogen.
      Now, Mercaptans are very good catalyst poisons, so you wouldn’t want them in the hydrogen used in your EV’s fuel cell.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        August 17, 2021 9:05 pm

        Has anyone actually managed to odourise hydrogen consistently? As I understand the issue (willing to be corrected) thiols etc readily separate from hydrogen leaving it still odourless and also themselves concentrate somewhat dangerously on their own.

    • Duker permalink
      August 18, 2021 12:43 am

      Any gas system can have explosion risks and they do happen regularly.
      Remember the old town gas system was 50% hydrogen, no reason to suppose it cant be mixed back in again ( with adapted burners)

      • Gamecock permalink
        August 18, 2021 11:12 am

        Stay on sujbect. That is not the proposal. The proposal is 100% hydrogen gas.

  14. Jack Broughton permalink
    August 17, 2021 8:21 pm

    The 121 page glossy report used to show haw carefully the government have considered hydrogen future has 121 pages which contain only one mention of the risk posed by hydrogen leakage and that is just a note saying that leakage will be higher. Leaked Hydrogen will rise quickly to the ozone layer and hydrogen has a great affinity for ozone …… This well known issue is totally omitted from the pontifications, wonder why?

    The clown prince of wallies ladybird book is more technically sound than these dreadful reports. We now have the recent IPCC report plus three UK hydrogen reports within about one week. Thousands of pages of low-quality drivel per week is going some!

  15. D Fagan permalink
    August 17, 2021 10:09 pm

    Hydrogen can not be piped down ANY of the existing steel pipe work as it is not suitable.
    So they have ignored the costs of replacement. Also any exisiting boiler would have to replaced AND every gas meter. Smart have currently cost £12 Billion. the gas ones would have to be changed AGAIN.
    I asked a pipework contractor about costs to replace my gas pipe from the street into the house, (typical 1970s semi) estimate £6000. Digging down, (to current standards) removing and replacing concrete removing and replacing garden etc…

  16. dearieme permalink
    August 17, 2021 10:38 pm

    My wife says that she has a clear memory that I once voted Labour. The only thing I can think of that would make me vote Labour again is Boris’s green balderdash. Unfortunately Labour will support it rather than oppose it.

    What can we do, Comrades?

    • August 18, 2021 2:03 pm

      I have also had that thought.

      We are governed by idiots who don’t understand what they legislate and are advised by corrupt civil servants enriching themselves after early retirement from the laws they write to make lobbysist rich from this structural energy fraud, that our idiot children can’t understand because they don’t get taught real science anymore, so they believe what they are told, rather than understanding and test ing it independently. .

  17. It doesn't add up... permalink
    August 18, 2021 2:33 am

    Not really sure that the figures for EV infrastructure add up. A basic 7kW charger is £1100-£1500 including installation. A more fancy V2G one is around £5,000, and faster chargers are much more expensive. A 22kW charger is basically 3x7kW on a 3 phase supply, so it will be roughly 3 times the cost, with installation being considerably more expensive given the need to provide a 3 phase supply and metering. The rapid chargers are a different game altogether.

    The cabling cost is of course hard to estimate if you are using the same cables to distribute power for heating and industrial processes. The last bits of dedicated cable really are part of installation costs. My guess would be that what they have done here is to estimate a total cost for network upgrades, and then apportion a share based on the expected share of EV demand in total electricity demand. That would imply that the cost of network upgrades is more like 4-6 times higher than quoted – but that should in theory cover the other uses. However, as you are not going to keep on digging up cables and replacing them just because electricity demand rises, there are going to have to be some big decisions taken and substantial investment on a speculative basis in distribution network capacity, particularly within cities. I see no reason to depart from the estimate made by Mike Travers for GWPF of £200bn.

  18. John Hultquist permalink
    August 18, 2021 4:49 am

    If something can’t happen, it won’t.

  19. Athelstan permalink
    August 18, 2021 8:03 am

    “We aim to consult later this year on the case for enabling, or requiring, new natural gas boilers to be easily convertible to use hydrogen (‘hydrogen-ready’) by 2026.” /quote


    “we aim to consult” at no stage during all this lunacy (the great green scam) have they hmg and green lobby/ruinables industry – ever consulted the people of the United Kingdom, all this destruction is done via diktat.


    giggle on.

  20. Coeur de Lion permalink
    August 18, 2021 9:26 am

    Is there an example where hydrogen has been piped into a home for domestic use yet? Where? Nowhere near me I hope.
    Will there be an import ban on gas boilers? I haven’t heard of one for ICE cars yet. What does the WTO think?

  21. Ray Sanders permalink
    August 18, 2021 1:22 pm

    “Is there an example where hydrogen has been piped into a home for domestic use yet?”
    No. There have been trials established using bottled hydrogen which is obviously a completely different option and offers precisely zero insight into a hydrogen distribution network. Here is a typically scientifically and technologically illiterate article promoting the issue.

  22. August 18, 2021 1:58 pm

    Takes more energy to separate the hydrogen fuel than burning it can deliver. Chemistry 101

    Hydrogen not only recombines explosively, sort of reverse space shuttle after the SRB;s have gone, , but leaks easily through the plastic pipes just laid to replace the cast iron ones. One Proton and one electron are a lot smaller than a Methane molecule.

    REALITY: Watch this: From the industry that has to deploy the technology…

    The “Hydrogen Ready” idea is really more like avoiding the consequences of creating technically stupid ideas with some face. Bit like making a f-150 Raptor convertible to liquid hydrogen. You can, but who would? etc.

  23. August 18, 2021 2:34 pm

    Could someone write a succinct summary of why piped Hydrogen for boilers is a bad idea (even as a post here), such that we can send it to our dim MPs so they can understand reality.

    • Gas Geezer permalink
      August 19, 2021 10:37 am

      I haven’t got a succinct summary but here’s a couple of basic issues : the calorific value of Hydrogen is only approx one third of NG so interesting implications for pipe sizing. Hydrogen has an explosive range of 4-74% unlike NG which is 5-15% so when the ignition electrode gap is excessive, a common problem , the eventual ignition if it does occur will be like a bomb going off .

      • August 19, 2021 10:46 am

        It’s bullet points like this that needs to be the ‘bad idea’ summary.

  24. JBW permalink
    August 18, 2021 5:05 pm

    Interesting the British Gas keeps advertising new gas boilers on Classic FM. Do they know something we don’t? /s

  25. Nicholas permalink
    August 18, 2021 7:00 pm

    The Independent reports that in just a four month period over the 2020/21 winter there were 9 major gas explosions in houses, resulting in deaths and destroyed properties.

    Our safety standards are inadequate now with Methane/Natural gas. We will each be living with a time bomb if we follow the H2 idiocy. One an imagine a chain reaction destroying a terrace row like a deck of cards.

  26. cookers52 permalink
    August 19, 2021 9:01 am

    I am struggling a bit with this.

    According to the IPCC, and this fact is widely accepted by all the scientific establishment, the climate in UK will soon be so warm that domestic heating won’t be necessary.

    So this really doesn’t matter much.

    This warming climate has been forecast by the scientists for over 40 years now, and although it might not feel like it, the weather is the warmest evah!

    • August 19, 2021 10:42 am

      But the engineering illiterate scientific community think that temperatures will continue to rise whilst we keep adding to our ~3% of the 0.04% of the atmosphere that is the inert gas CO2. Their history illiteracy prevents them seeing and understanding that climate is a series of overlapping cycles of differing lengths, driven by many external and non human controllable forces. Like gravity, in climate, ‘what goes up must come down’.

  27. Ronald Rumble permalink
    August 19, 2021 8:21 pm

    Have been reading about so-called conversion to hydrogen power. I have recently learnt about ‘Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil’, and wonder whether promoting sensible alternatives to Hydrogen may be a useful exercise. Quite obviously, the details and background of this product will need to be thoroughly examined to ensure it is worth following up. Alternatives to what the politicians want us to have never seem to appear in print or on TV and it will interesting to learn what else is available. regards Ron Rumble

    On Tue, 17 Aug 2021 at 16:37, NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT wrote:

    > Paul Homewood posted: “By Paul Homewood h/t Ian Magness The > Government has now published its new hydrogen strategy: The sale of > new boilers that run exclusively on natural gas could be banned by 2026 in > the UK’s push to hit ” >

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