Skip to content

Hydrogen boiler revolution ‘pretty much impossible’, says minister

October 10, 2021

By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Magness



Welcome to the real world, Lord!!



Using hydrogen to replace natural gas as a green alternative in boilers is “pretty much impossible”, a minister has admitted, despite the Government planning major trials over the coming decade.

The Government’s plan currently targets the production of 5GW capacity by 2030, which it hopes to use for industry, transport and potentially home heating.

A village will be selected to trial hydrogen in its pipes as a heating alternative by 2025. This will involve the conversion of the local grid and the replacement of devices such as boilers, meters and hobs. A town-scale trial is planned by 2030.

Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has suggested that all homes with gas boilers could potentially be switched to hydrogen, depending on the outcome of trials.

But Lord Martin Callanan, a junior minister in the business and energy department, has admitted that low-carbon hydrogen is unlikely to become a viable alternative.

Describing himself as a “little bit of a hydrogen sceptic”, Lord Callanan said: “If I’m being honest the idea that we could produce enough hydrogen at reasonable cost to displace mains gas is pretty much impossible.

“Technology might get us there, there might be some scientific breakthrough. But it’s more likely that it will end up being used by trains and HGVs, for some industrial processes, rather than for home heating.

“But the official policy is we will see how the market develops and take a view in the mid-part of this decade as to whether it will play a significant role in the home.”

The Government wants hydrogen to provide enough energy for  67,000 homes, or 0.2 per cent of domestic heating demand, by 2030, rising to around 10 per cent by 2035, which could involve blending it into the natural gas grid.

Hydrogen can be made either using methane, with the emissions captured and stored, classed as “blue”, or through electrolysis, considered “green” if renewable electricity is used.

Blue hydrogen is not considered to be a zero-carbon energy source, and requires carbon capture technology that is yet to be deployed at scale.

Creating green hydrogen for homes would use six times as much electricity as direct heat electrification from heat pumps, according to a study last year.

Lord Callanan acknowledged that moving to green heating in homes is “one of the biggest political challenges that we are faced with as a government.”

“It doesn’t get that much publicity, but it’s something that will cost us an enormous amount of money over the next 15 to 20 years.”


The comment that creating green hydrogen for homes would use six times as much electricity as direct heat electrification from heat pumps is an interesting one.

As we know, the running costs of heat pumps is already higher than for a gas boiler. This study indicates that hydrogen boilers could be at least six times higher.

  1. Thomas Carr permalink
    October 10, 2021 6:08 pm

    The more that the green agenda as pursued by the government can be shown to impoverish the electorate the better that folly can be heard and understood .
    In the meantime the Daily Mail or who ever cares to publish same can run a series on the burden of surcharging green energy to make renewable sources ‘work’ and succeed. The whole picture is little more than that of a racket and a massive abuse of the market to assert the insupportable.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      October 11, 2021 11:08 am

      The problem is that to remove the Tories from government requires an alternative to vote for. Currently Labour and the LimpDumbs are planning the some future of poverty for us. The Labour numpties when interviewed just say that we need a plan – possibly a cunning one – but offer no idea of what that would be. Classic politics but not of any interest to voters.

  2. permalink
    October 10, 2021 6:18 pm

    Of course it is. For one thig, it means changes all the supply pipes. And what about cookers? This is just another of Boris’s pie-in-the-sky theories egged on by his eco-nut new wife. And producing the hydrogen is emits more co2 than it saves!

    • October 10, 2021 7:33 pm

      Any proof that his wife has egged anyone on?

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        October 10, 2021 8:54 pm

        From her speech at the conservative conference:
        “Boris also wanted me to remind you that as mayor he led the pride parade wearing a rather fetching pink stetson, which I think we should encourage him to do again!”
        Yes, it’s not relevant, but you only asked for proof that she egged someone on. And it made me laugh.

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        October 11, 2021 8:22 am

        Obviously no direct proof and I don’t care to contemplate the grisly details of what happens in Nut-Nut’s boudoir.

        But there have been neighbours’ reports of violent rows, “Oh no, not my laptop..(crash)” and so on.

        Just gossip.

        But, although there are women highly attracted by men with power, the fact is that Boris seems never to have been offered a job as a male model and is very obviously a philander with morals like my Tom cat (but lacking the latter’s pleasant nature and intelligence).

        It has been suggested by the unkind that Nut-Nut is GangGreen’s answer to Fang Fang, the Chinese Communist Party’s young lady who ‘penetrated’ Rep. Eric Swalwell (Shagwell) from California.

        Of course not, surely!!!…?

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        October 11, 2021 8:42 am

        A number of people who have knowledge who have said she does.

  3. GeoffB permalink
    October 10, 2021 6:26 pm

    The laws of Physics and Chemistry are well known, Hydrogen has to be manufactured on our Planet (the new word for earth, world) it does not exist . The energy required is just too much to make it a viable energy store.

  4. October 10, 2021 6:42 pm

    Way-off topic, but readers may enjoy this youtube video having a right good go at the BBC and at politicised science propaganda (not climate-related, but (supposedly) healthcare):

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      October 10, 2021 8:06 pm

      The “medical student” who lead that pure bullshit article is also a self confessed journalist out to make a fast buck.
      That the BBC and Grauniad consider this tw@t a reliable source of anything at all is disgusting.

    • Thomas Carr permalink
      October 10, 2021 10:32 pm

      A revelation in terms of presentation and coherence. It would be gratifying and entirely justified to have a similar graphic analysis by a similar well equipped expert of some of the topics that Paul H has drawn to our attention as espoused by the BBC’s famous four.
      Thanks for introducing us to Dr. J.C.

      • Coeur de Lion permalink
        October 11, 2021 9:32 am

        Indeed. What about the IPCC’s AR6? Steve McIntyre at shows that their new Hockey Stick is as fraudulent as the first. Is it my misapprehension or has AR6 gone very quiet? Even on the BBC? Because it so obviously is running up against reality, has made no progress since AR5, dares not make too extravagant we-are-all-doomed statements? In frustration the political writers of the Advice for Policymakers injected a Hockey Stick which Steve couldn’t find in the texts.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        October 12, 2021 10:04 am

        CdL: as far as AR6 is concerned, it is my understanding that the SPM is all that will be released prior to cop26. The actual derails of the study will not be released until after. Afaik.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      October 12, 2021 9:58 am

      Many thanks for this vid, climan. I loved the dry presentation and the understated trashing of the BBC’s so-called paper. This guy needs a great deal more exposure. I particularly liked his exposition on the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning and why the latter is wrong: Needless to say, that was the method BBC took.

  5. October 10, 2021 6:54 pm

    JC sardonically debunks the BeeB’s claim to objective scientific analysis but does it in such a way that the algorithms of Youtube won’t catch him…..

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      October 10, 2021 9:13 pm

      Equally off-topic, but I have just sat through Friday’s episode of Gardeners World — 60 minutes of uninterrupted climate propaganda including a grovelling interview with ‘Nobel Prize winner’ Al Gore.
      I managed to avoid throwing up!
      That this programme has sunk to such a level beggars belief!

      • Bob Murray permalink
        October 11, 2021 10:52 am

        The part of that programme that I found really interesting was the piece reporting where trials are being carried out in a UK forestry area locally increasing the atmospheric CO2 concentration by around 20% . (Sorry, I didn’t note the area or the university undertaking the trial). Initial findings are that the health and growth of leaves, trunks and root systems was very noticeably enhanced.
        I guess the BBC hadn’t thought through the implications before they allowed that piece to be broadcast.

  6. T Walker permalink
    October 10, 2021 7:30 pm

    We already knew the lunatic and his wife were running the asylum – perhaps the hysteria will calm down after COP Glasgow.

    Yes I know, I am trying to be a half-full man again.

    • October 10, 2021 7:34 pm

      This will all be dialled back after Cop26 jamboree is over

    • October 10, 2021 9:07 pm

      Sadly the rest of the Tory, Labour and Dim Parties are singing from the same hymn sheet

  7. October 10, 2021 7:51 pm

    “If I’m being honest”, said the minister. What!! He can’t be a minister if he said that.

  8. Terence Carlin permalink
    October 10, 2021 9:29 pm

    It seems to me that many of the commentators here do not appreciate that unless the 2008 climate change act, which as introduced by Ed Milliband , is repealed and the statutory establishment of the climate change committee revoked then the government is under a legal obligation to pursue the reduction of CO2 emissions and whilst we can all bleat as much as we like about specific government measures, without a government willing to repeal the act then we are unlikely to see any change in direction.

    With regards to hydrogen replacing natural gas those of us that remember town gas prior to the conversion to natural gas in the 1960’s will recall that town gas was indeed roughly 50% hydrogen H2 and 30% methane CH4 with the remaining 20% consisting primarily carbon dioxide & monoxide. So it would seem to me, that with our coal reserves it would be possible with new technology to produce hydrogen from coal whilst capturing the carbon and the CO2.
    So whilst I do not buy into the AGW narrative, unless there is a mass movement and or a new political party willing to change the CC Act, I do think we need to encourage alternatives to the head long charge into renewables and electrical supply as our only source of energy distribution.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      October 10, 2021 10:21 pm

      Using coal to make hydrogen from water is the cheapest method and long used (pre WW2).
      One problem is storage of the carbon dioxide and MONOXIDE (which is toxic) is not possible at the necessary scale with current methods, which border on wishful thinking.
      Another is that with hydrogen much of the town gas pipes would have to be replaced, along with all the household boilers. Also that the ventilation would need changing to avoid build-up of H2 from leaks (for which it is notorious) and some means of detecting same (unlike coal gas which smelt or natural gas with added odourant).

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        October 11, 2021 8:54 am

        One advantage of producing Town Gas is, of course, that the gas has a substantial carbon monoxide content, highly toxic (haemoglobin converted to carboxyhaemoglobin), so you turn a cheery ruddy colour and die quickly and (allegedly) painlessly.

        Hence the once popular suicide method of ‘sticking your head in the oven’. Could be popular again.

        Apart from Town Gas, the other major product was coke, of course. But not the white powder that our Beloved Elite love to stick up their noses. Allegedly.

        Copious quantities of cyanides (Blue Billy) and other nasty chemicals also accumulated. The smell of the operation had to be experienced to be believed and blighted the surrounding area.

        No doubt the old coke ovens could be improved.

        But where is the raw coal going to come from? Certainly not the UK! No remaining mines, no miners.

  9. October 10, 2021 10:07 pm

    The Tories have a new untransparent front group CuriaUK with an ambush bio
    that claims they are interested in promoting the voices of ALL communities
    12 tweets from them

  10. Graeme No.3 permalink
    October 10, 2021 10:27 pm

    And now the question on everyones lips “Will Boris open COP26 wearing a Green stetson?”

  11. Terence Carlin permalink
    October 11, 2021 12:06 am

    Graham, having read your comments I thought i’d do a quick check to see if there is any research outside the UK into developing a methodology. This link illustrates that Japan’s J power and Schlumberger are proposing a hydrogen plant using Australian coal., and utilising the CO2 by product of the process in EOR.
    I do not understand, why the UK distribution network which is now mainly plastic pipes would be a problem carrying hydrogen given the distribution network, that predates natural gas carried town gas which was composed primarily of hydrogen and methane. Siemens are studying the German gas distribution network and believe there is no major upgrades needed see link for white paper

    Cookers and boilers would have to be retrofitted in a similar way to when we migrated from town gas to natural gas but on the face of it potentially a cheaper option than heat pumps.
    Of course the simple answer would be to continue with natural gas and continue to develop the gas fields that we have.
    Much of the negative narrative on hydrogen seems to me to be pushed by those that see windmills and batteries as the future for energy and are anti anything nuclear & hydrogen that may provide a better future alternative

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      October 11, 2021 12:49 am

      Terrence Carlin:
      Yes, you can make hydrogen from coal; the Australian government is funding a pilot plant in Gippsland (Vic) to make hydrogen to be shipped to Japan and the CO2 to be pumped into depleted offshore oil (and gas fields). EOR was used in Canada where an expanded power station used a third of its increased capacity getting rid of the CO2 at a nominal price.
      Use of EOR in Japan is unlikely as they don’t have gas or oil fields nearby.
      The plastic pipes can deliver hydrogen, but the rate of delivery of gas is too low; either the diameter would have to be increased (new pipes) or the pressure increased (and with hydrogen’s tendency to leak????) I understand that in many cases there are sections of old cast iron pipes which would definitely need replacement.
      I cannot agree that most of the negative opposition comes from the believers in windmills etc.
      but rather from those who have actually had to handle hydrogen or have engineering experience (plus some who are scared by the Hindenburg &R101 disasters). Most belief in hydrogen as a “climate saviour” is from wishful ‘thinking’ and an inability to do arithmetic.
      The delusions goes
      1. The Climate is in danger from increases in CO2
      2. Hydrogen only burns to water vapour.
      3. Renewables generate very cheap electricity
      4. Using very cheap electricity would generate cheap hydrogen.

      Only No.4 can be said to have any validity.

      As for continuing use of natural gas I am fully in favour, and so would be all who find that hydrogen would cost them between 3 and 6 times as much for energy. Perhaps the current shortage might prompt your political class to don thinking caps, not Stetsons, and end the bans on exploration and fracking.

  12. Sandy McClintock permalink
    October 11, 2021 12:30 am

    I discussed the ‘.. IVM is horse medicine meme..’ message with a veterinarian friend. He asked “If you are treating a $2,000,000 horse, do you really want to run any risk that there will be an adverse reaction caused by any ‘impurity’ in the product being used?”
    The same applies to the manufacturer of that product – they do not want to be sued for causing the death of a champion animal; this applies to bovines, dogs, race-horses, rams etc. I calculated the loss of a top bull would have been over $12,000,000.
    Remember the old WW2 adage in the RAF: “The flack is worst when you are directly over the target.”

  13. tom0mason permalink
    October 11, 2021 4:51 am

    Oddly enough I had already surmised that hydrogen boiler was a nonstarter before any minister decided to ‘be honest’ and confirm my rough back of the envelope calculations.
    The infrastructure for making (whether green or blue hydrogen), distributing and deploying for domestic use hydrogen gas, will be found to be far more difficult and expensive to overcome — probably this will happen only after a few unwanted ‘accidents’ occur.

    Maybe some other ministers can have other ‘moments of honesty’, and find that solar and windfarms are a criminal waste of both the unspoiled countryside and taxpayers money!

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      October 11, 2021 8:50 am

      It’s perfectly possible to save the planet but the challenge is to do it and still get elected. Sadly the Labour Party has utterly forsaken the poor and low paid and is far more concerned with trans rights and theoretical inequalities so provides no challenge to these insane impoverishment of the Tories.

  14. cookers52 permalink
    October 11, 2021 6:17 am

    Parliament has unanimously decided that to save us from potential environmental catastrophe the whole energy infrastructure of UK needs to change.

    Unfortunately that task is beyond the scope of political governance. So policy decisions are made to demolish power stations and this is described as success, but nobody quite knows what to do next.

    We now have an energy and economic crisis and the policy has made us vulnerable to extreme weather, meanwhile the environmental crisis remains largely illusionary.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      October 11, 2021 8:53 am

      It’s like that Indiana Jones film – they’ve leapt into thd void having been assured that their faith will be enough to support them. But there’s no invisible bridge, just an abyss.

      They are going to discover that listening only to mediocre scientists with a political axe to grind and quite mad extremists doesn’t produce sensible policies.

  15. Graeme Dennis permalink
    October 11, 2021 6:36 am

    I’m not surprised that the cost of green hydrogen would be 6 times the costs of an electric heat source pump.

    However, does anyone have a link to the reference that the running costs of electric heat pumps is already higher than for gas boilers? I know the capital costs of an electric heat pump would be higher, but can someone elaborate regarding running costs?

  16. October 11, 2021 9:33 am

    Hydrogen can be made either using methane, with the emissions captured and stored

    Who’s paying for that storage?

    ‘Carbon removal will cost as much annually as the NHS budget’

  17. David Allan permalink
    October 11, 2021 10:54 am

    Milliband and Blair (the worst PM the U.K. has ever had) and the disastrous 2008 Climate Change Act set this country on the road to utter economic and social ruin. The Act was passed on the mod by clown politicians who were too stupid to understand its implications. No government since has had the brain or guts to stand up to the green loonies and reverse the situation. I fear it is too late now.

  18. Gerry, England permalink
    October 11, 2021 11:17 am

    The Mail had an advertising feature for air source heat pumps from Global Energy which claims to dramatically reduce your energy bills. Their example is a manor in Lancashire!!! The property used an oil-fired boiler for heating costing over £4000 a year.

    Allegedly the owner has made big savings but the final piece points out that taxpayers have helped out with the costs as there is a 7 year subsidy of nearly £10,000.

    A much earlier article comparing a ground source heat pump showed that with oil having dropped from its peak price, it was much cheaper than the huge electricity bill from running the pump. And we all know which direction electricity bills are heading for the foreseeable future.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      October 11, 2021 2:33 pm

      I think we’re now back to oil being rather cheaper than gas for heating.

  19. It doesn't add up... permalink
    October 11, 2021 2:34 pm

    Congratulations to Callanan for telling the truth.

  20. Terence Carlin permalink
    October 11, 2021 4:27 pm

    Graham, the Siemens link that I included in my response seems to contradict your argument regarding pipe bores and materials as whilst it is true that H2 has a much lower calorific value than CH4 the higher energy flow rate achieved with hydrogen appears to compensates for the lower calorific value see page 9 of the white paper for a clear explanation. Please note that Siemens are currently testing the engineering practice, in the field including compressor design. From my perspective once again, we are seeing both Japan and Germany dealing with the practical engineering issues whilst we in the UK have declared that from 2025 no new builds will have gas boilers installed whilst having nothing practical as an alternative in place!

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      October 11, 2021 10:40 pm

      Sorry, I missed that and I am allergic to aggresive demands for cookies.
      However most people want heat out of the fuel delivered. Hydrogen has a density one eighth of methane (the major component of natural gas) and a heat content per Kg 2.55 times. Unfortunately the VOLUMETRIC heat delivered per cubic metre is less (0.318) than the same volume of methane, so in practice it would be necessary for much higher flow rates.
      That can only be achieved by higher pressure or bigger pipes.

      Yes, it is interesting what Seimens are doing, especially with PEM (membranes) joined with intermittent wind energy to stabilise generation, but I doubt that 1GW output by 2030 would do the UK much good. And I don’t think that hydrogen can be burned in air without the formation of nitrogen oxides.
      And I note (elsewhere) someone compared the PROJECTED cost of hydrogen in 2050 at €1.2 per Kg. (36MWh) to the cost of using natural gas at 13MWh and decided that a carbon tax of €130 per tonne of CO2 would make hydrogen ‘viable’. The current rise in cost of natural gas would make the difference smaller. As far as I know the current cost of hydrogen is nowhere near €1.2 per Kg but far higher.

      • Terence Carlin permalink
        October 12, 2021 6:49 pm

        Graeme, Its almost 50 years since I studied Bernoulli’s equations and again I am afraid you are wrong regarding the need to increase either pressure or pipe diameter The energy flow rate is related to both the relative density of the gas the frictional coefficient between the pipe material and the gas as well as pressure, temperature and pipe diameter, The calculations in the link I sent illustrates that with a marginal change in pressure the same energy flow can be delivered for natural gas and hydrogen through the same pipe network . However, you are right that small amounts of nitrous oxide would be potentially produced when hydrogen is burnt in air if a flame temperature of 1350 degrees C is reached but the engineers and designers of the prototype hydrogen boilers are well aware of this constraint and are developing burner designs to control the flame temperature and the potential of NOX production.

        Clearly if you use natural gas to produce Hydrogen it will be more expensive than the feed stock but again if you use coal who knows !

  21. October 19, 2021 2:55 am

    Reblogged this on Gds44's Blog.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: