Hydrogen boiler trial will not be enforced after U-turn
Households that faced being forced to switch to hydrogen or a heat pump in a town in Cheshire will be able to keep their gas boilers in a U-turn following backlash from residents.
A community in Whitby, Ellesmere Port, had been told it would have to switch to hydrogen, or be forced to install a heat pump, if they were chosen as the location for trials starting next year.
But gas network Cadent, which is bidding to run the trial, is now planning to build a parallel grid under the area to allow households to opt out, The Telegraph understands.
The existing grid will be used for hydrogen, while a new grid will carry natural gas for households that want to retain their boilers.
The climbdown follows an outcry after it emerged gas networks would be given the power to enter the homes of people that refused to take part in the trial so they could switch off their gas supply for safety.
And it follows 10 months of fierce opposition from many of the 2,000 residents of Whitby in the trial area, who expressed concerns over the safety of hydrogen, as well as the disruption to their homes from ripping out boilers and gas appliances.
Concerns have also been raised by residents about the long-term cost of hydrogen, predicted to be 70 per cent higher than natural gas, and the implications for insurance and house prices in the area.
Cadent is one of two gas networks bidding to conduct the trial, which will inform the Government’s final decision on the use of hydrogen for home heating. It is in competition with NGN, which is proposing to run a similar trial in Redcar.
The two companies must submit final bids to the Government and Ofgem on Friday, before a final decision is expected in September.
Low-carbon hydrogen can be made from natural gas, with the carbon captured and stored, classed as blue, or made from renewable energy and labelled green.
There is hardly any currently produced, and it is expected to be in high demand to decarbonise heavy industry and transport in the future.
Several amendments have been tabled to the Energy Bill, which appeared in the House of Lords on Tuesday, that would block the hydrogen trials, following opposition from both MPs and peers.
Baroness Bryony Worthington, a cross-bench peer who co-authored the 2008 Climate Change Act and has opposed the hydrogen trials, said the decision by Cadent was “good for vulnerable citizens”.
“But they probably sensed they were about to score a huge own goal in having to install much more efficient and safer heat pumps,” she said.