It’s flaming June, so let’s talk about heating

29th Jun 2020


Last week was warm, flaming June, so of course it was the time to talk about how we heat our homes. Several reports were published, including the annual CCC report to Parliament. Let’s be honest, all had content that we could support and we reject. So, yes, they were good reports in the Yes Minister sense.

More important than the detail, which will change over time, was the sentiment – the mood music that is set. And it is no exaggeration to say that hydrogen has been an increasing feature. Even Lord Deben, in his introduction to the CCC report, mentioned the hydrogen economy (as well as his pet hobby-horse, building new homes to Zero Carbon).

We saw Aurora Energy Research publish a report which suggested that the cost of hydrogen is set to fall to comparable prices with natural gas, which deals with one of the key questions that is often asked about the future role of gas.

One of the key passages from the CCC report was the recommendation that new oil and gas boilers should be phased out, by the late-2020s and mid-2030s, with exemptions “where an area has a clear and costed plan to switch over to low-carbon hydrogen”. Put aside the dates, they can be a distraction, the sentiment is what is important. Given decisions likely to be made about new homes being built, having hydrogen ready appliances is a must. Having regional plans in place, equally so. That’s why trials being considered across the UK, from Fife to the North-west, from Teesside to South Wales, all will provide the evidence base to enable an informed decision by politicians.

Talking of which, I’ll make a private observation here. Unusually, I think politicians are ahead in their thinking compared to where advisory bodies are. I know they have different roles, but my reading of comments Ministers and Opposition have expressed, is that they are viewing hydrogen far more positively than the rather cautious approach others are taking. In the coming weeks, perhaps we’ll have further proof of this – watch this space.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO