Many manufacturers and industry figures have been strongly banging the drum for hydrogen as an alternative to heat pumps, however in recent months it feels as though those voices have been getting quieter.
There are a two main reasons for this, in my opinion. The first is the financial support the government has given to enable the growth of the heat pump sector. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme encouraging uptake of heat pumps is now in place until 2028 (giving industry some certainty of a future pipeline of work). It also launched the Heat Training Grant earlier this year, which largely covers the cost of heat pump training for installers.
By comparison, the government has been much less reluctant to back hydrogen – it’s still not committing to a decision on the use of hydrogen in heat until 2026. There is also a lot of competition for hydrogen as a resource, with the government also still considering the role it should play in power, industry, and transport.
A second factor as to why the push for hydrogen could be being scaled back is due to the likely introduction of the Market Mechanism. This will compel manufacturers to sell a percentage of heat pumps compared to gas boilers, and if they don’t, they’ll be hit with a significant fine from the government. If it is introduced, it will be necessary for gas boiler manufacturers to get on board with heat pumps, otherwise their businesses could be hit hard. It makes no sense to heavily promote a competing technology, which won’t be commercially available for a number of years, if the government is going to punish you for not selling the alternative.
Whereas you could previously argue that the government remained largely non-committal on preferred decarbonisation options for heating, these actions are starting to more clearly define a direction of travel for our industry.
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