In 2022, it seemed like the stars were aligning for hydrogen to become a major player in home heating. For example, 100% hydrogen boilers were contuining to be installed at DNV’s ‘Hy Street’ project, a row of ordinary-looking houses built at its research facility in Cumbria, to replicate how homes powered by hydrogen might work in practice. In addition, the H21 South Bank project saw a Vaillant 100% hydrogen boiler installed at a bespoke facility to help test the viability of hydrogen. 

There was also a lot of talk around boilers being ‘hydrogen-ready’, with the expectation that the government was going to give the go-ahead for 20% hydrogen to be fed into the gas grid at a future date.

However, hydrogen’s stock plummeted last year. The most significant reason for the move away from hydrogen, in my opinion, is that the government’s attitude shifted. 
Two important hydrogen village trials, which would have been some of the first to see hydrogen heating systems installed in actual homes, were confronted with local opposition and eventually shelved by the government.

The government also started to ramp up funding for alternative technologies such as heat pumps and heat networks. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme was extended and now provides additional funding, and the Heat Training Grant was introduced to largely cover the cost of heat pump training for engineers.

Moving into 2024, things have only gotten worse for hydrogen. In April, the H100 Fife Project, a 300-home hydrogen heating trial in Scotland, which was due to be launched later this year, was delayed until summer 2025 by its operator SGN.

And this month came what could be the final nail in the coffin for hydrogen and home heating. The government’s flagship Hydrogen Heating Town pilot of 10,000 homes will now no longer take place until after 2026, following strategic decisions on the role of hydrogen in decarbonising heat.

In a statement alongside the cancellation, the government was careful to state that low carbon hydrogen still “may” have a role to play in decarbonising heat, so, although it’s not looking good, it’s not game over yet.