Perspective is needed; media headlines are designed to shock
9th Aug 2021
There must be times when you want to bang your head on the desk, this week I had that feeling. The cause, well, newspaper reporting of an article attacking hydrogen in the home, based on the Hy4Heat study and the letter of assistance given by the HSE to BEIS.
The gory headline, “hydrogen boilers could cause four times as many explosions as gas”, written by a journalist with little understanding of the safety record of the gas industry or it seems statistics, but corroborated by an energy lobbyist who is anti-hydrogen for home heating. Why the story, well simply to damage an industry that is doing its bit to help the UK reach Net Zero.
So why the frustration?
Quite simply the track record of the gas industry is second to none. As one of our equally frustrated colleagues pointed out, the current UK fatality frequency from gas explosions is one per year – one too many but one. On average two people a year are killed by lightning.
What hydrogen in the home will do is eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning – accidental or otherwise. This is a far greater risk than death by explosion – so why didn’t the journalist write this, or why didn’t the energy lobbyist point it out?
Here are some other risks you may wish to know about:-
According to Electrical Safety First, there were 14,186 accidental electrical fires in UK homes (2018/19); 26 fatalities, and over 700 injuries but this doesn’t stop us switching on the TV, or washing machine.
According to UK Fire Service Resources, 35,000 cars a year go up in flames (not deliberate) and around 100 people die as a result, but this doesn’t stop us driving.
It is about managing risk. Putting things into perspective. The debate about achieving Net Zero should not be conducted through misleading headlines. And certainly not encouraged or facilitated by those working in the energy world. Safety is always a primary concern, as it should be, and hydrogen in the home will be safer than what we have now. Put that into perspective.
Mike Foster, CEO