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Last updated: 13 March 2024

Hydrogen Boilers in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)

Everything You Need to Know About the Hydrogen Heating in the UK

Hydrogen boiler technology has considerable potential to transform how we heat our homes and businesses with the help of boilers. While hydrogen gas boilers are still in the early stages of development, they are expected to play a pivotal role in creating a more sustainable approach to heating. 

The UK government has made a firm commitment to phase out gas boilers by 2035, with hydrogen boilers helping to align with the UK’s efforts to combat climate change. But will hydrogen replace natural gas completely?

In this article, we’ll delve into the inner workings of hydrogen boilers in the UK, explore their numerous benefits, and discuss the challenges involved in transitioning to a hydrogen-based economy. 

Naturally, one would have a bunch of second thoughts when adopting a new technology at their home, such as a hydrogen gas boiler. This is when a professional could weigh in. 

Yet finding a boiler expert you can trust is a daunting chore if done alone. Browsing reviews and reaching out to installers on your own is unlikely what you’d want to do when you get back home from work.

Luckily, GreenMatch can offer a less stressful alternative. Spend 30 seconds filling out our simple form and we’ll connect you with up to 3 vetted boiler installers near you. Compare their quotes with no obligation to accept any offers. Our service is all free and it takes less than a minute to begin! Simply click below to get started.

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What is a hydrogen boiler?

how hydrogen is processed into electricity

Hydrogen boilers are heating systems with hydrogen gas as a primary fuel source. Hydrogen (H2) is a renewable resource that produces zero carbon emissions when burned. This makes it an environmentally friendly option compared to traditional fossil fuels like oil or gas. 

Just like natural gas boilers, hydrogen boilers burn hydrogen gas to generate hot flue gases which are then used to heat water. This water can be stored for later use or circulated through radiators for heating purposes.

In August 2021, the UK government launched a strategy in order to meet its goal of 5 gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030. Such a strategy aims to replace natural gas for powering homes as well as industrial facilities. 

There are two main ways to produce hydrogen: electrolysis and steam-methane reforming (STR). The former splits water into hydrogen and oxygen through electricity, while the latter separates hydrogen atoms from carbon atoms in methane (CH4) by reacting methane with high-temperature steam.

The UK government plans to support these two production technologies by 2050 in order to reach its ambitious Net Zero target. 

Hydrogen ready boilers are designed to operate on a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas while hydrogen boilers operate on hydrogen only and require a hydrogen infrastructure to be available. 

Hydrogen boilers come in two primary types: combi boilers and system boilers. Combi boilers provide both heating for your home and hot water, while system boilers exclusively handle home heating. If you have a separate hot water cylinder, a system boiler is a suitable choice for your needs.

How to Achieve a Net Zero Energy Home (and why it is important for the UK 2050 target) | GreenMatch

How does a hydrogen boiler work?

The diagram below shows how hydrogen boilers work in 5 steps:

  1. Hydrogen gas from a hydrogen grid connection or from a hydrogen storage tank enters the boiler.
  2. The hydrogen fuel gets mixed with air in a combustion chamber.
  3. The mixture of hydrogen and oxygen is ignited to create heat.
  4. This heat goes to a heat exchanger which warms up the water for heating and domestic hot water purposes.
  5. The water vapour is vented to the outside air.

Hydrogen Boiler
1 2 3 4

Most new natural gas boilers are considered to be ready for a 20% hydrogen blend intake and can be called hydrogen ready boilers. Yet it’s important to remember that hydrogen boilers do not equal hydrogen ready boilers.

What is a hydrogen ready boiler?

A hydrogen ready boiler is a type of boiler that operates on an 80-to-20 blend of natural gas and hydrogen. Such a ratio is predicted to bring considerable environmental benefits equal to taking 2.5 million cars off the road.

Good to Know

Hydrogen ready boilers are designed to operate on a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas while hydrogen boilers operate on hydrogen only and require a hydrogen infrastructure to be available. Most new natural gas boilers are considered to be ready for a 20% hydrogen blend intake.

There’s not too much known about hydrogen ready boilers as of today since the technology is still in the making. However, if you have a natural gas boiler, it’s possible to turn it into a hydrogen ready one. 

To do this, you’ll need to replace a few key components:

  • The burner. A hydrogen boiler needs a different type of burner which is designed to produce a more efficient flame.
  • The valves. Hydrogen valves can withstand higher pressures and temperatures linked to hydrogen fuel. 
  • The safety devices. Since hydrogen is a more explosive gas, you’ll need to install leaks and explosion detectors. 

If a question like “Is my boiler hydrogen-ready?” is jogging through your head right now, then you’ll need a professional opinion. A boiler installer can guide you through this hydrogen jungle and recommend the best hydrogen ready boiler for your situation. 

Yet a seasoned boiler installer isn’t someone you find in a heartbeat. Usually, it takes days of strenuous googling, calling and vetting various installers before you find at least one who meets your requirements. If only someone else could do the stressful searches for you!

Fortunately, GreenMatch has got your back. Complete our 30-second form and we’ll connect you with up to 3 boiler experts in your area without any hassle. Simply compare their free quotes with no obligation to commit to any orders. Click below to get started!

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How much do hydrogen boilers cost?

While getting a hydrogen heater for your home does seem like an inspired way to reduce your carbon footprint, a hydrogen boiler’s cost is not that inspiring. Currently, you could pay anywhere between £2,000–£3,200 for a hydrogen boiler. 

Big boiler manufacturers in the UK have committed to ensuring that the prices for hydrogen ready boilers will remain on par with, or lower than, gas-fueled conventional boilers.

Since hydrogen boilers are still in their prototype stage, this boiler installation cost remains uncertain. The exact cost will only become clear once hydrogen boilers are commercially available.

Projected hydrogen boilers cost
Estimated boiler costEstimated installation cost
£2,000–£3,200£500–£1000

Running costs of hydrogen boilers

The running costs of hydrogen boilers are set to be relatively high compared to traditional fossil fuels. Yet, as the technology gets more widespread and the hydrogen market grows, the cost of hydrogen is expected to fall.

According to recent research by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), the expected running costs of a hydrogen boiler in the UK will be around £0.19/kWh by 2030. This is almost three times higher than natural gas cost which, by 2030, is estimated to be £0.08/kWh. 

However, it’s worth noting that the hydrogen gas cost is expected to drop over time. The RAP estimates that by 2040, the hydrogen boiler running costs will come down to £0.11/kWh. Speaking of the estimated gas 2040 price cap, it’s expected to cost around £0.07/kWh.

Projected running costs of hydrogen boilers
FuelPrice Cap by 2040 (kWh)
Hydrogen£0.11
Gas£0.07

However, the prices in this table are rough estimates and will change over the course of time. If you’re considering a domestic hydrogen boiler for your heating project, expert advice is strongly recommended.

A professional heating engineer would be able to offer you more accurate quotes tailored to your unique heating situation. Yet browsing for the right boiler expert on your own could take hours of your free time and still leave you with zero options.

Fortunately, GreenMatch has a network of engineers across the UK that we’ve already vetted. Answer a couple of simple questions about your home and receive up to 3 free quotes from qualified engineers near you. Compare their quotes with no obligations to place any orders. Click below to begin.

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Pros and cons of hydrogen heating in the UK

advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen boilers

Before anything else, we should understand that hydrogen boilers are still in the making and there aren’t plenty of use cases to fully understand their pros and cons. Ultimately, the following advantages and disadvantages should be considered as potential ones. 

Advantages of hydrogen boilers

  • Environmental benefits. Hydrogen is a renewable energy source and hydrogen boilers produce zero carbon dioxide emissions. This is because hydrogen is burned with air to produce water vapour, which is the only byproduct.
  • Efficiency. Hydrogen boilers are more efficient than gas or oil boilers, meaning that they can produce more heat with less energy. Hydrogen is a very energy-dense fuel, so it can pack a lot of heat into a small amount of fuel.
  • Seamless integration to the existing gas network. Since hydrogen boilers share the operational principle with gas boilers, the hydrogen boiler conversion will require very few infrastructural adjustments.
  • Sustainability. Hydrogen can be produced from renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. This makes hydrogen boilers a more sustainable option than gas or oil boilers, which rely on fossil fuels.

Despite all the advantages, hydrogen boilers do come with some potential disadvantages.

Disadvantages of hydrogen boilers

  • High cost. Hydrogen boilers are currently more expensive than gas and oil boilers. However, the cost of hydrogen boilers is expected to come down as the technology becomes more widespread.
  • Availability. Hydrogen boilers are not yet widely available in the UK. However, the UK government is investing in hydrogen infrastructure and is expected to make hydrogen boilers more widely available in the coming years.
  • Safety. Hydrogen is a flammable gas, so it is important to make sure that hydrogen boilers are properly installed and maintained by a qualified engineer.
  • Lack of infrastructure. A transition to a hydrogen economy will require significant investment in hydrogen production and distribution networks. Even though gas and hydrogen ready boilers operate on the same infrastructure, 100% hydrogen boilers do require some infrastructure changes.

All in all, hydrogen heating in the UK looks promising and inviting, yet the above-mentioned drawbacks might scare you away from going for it. An experienced boiler engineer could tell you more about hydrogen gas boilers and whether they are something for your home. Yet finding a professional takes time which a busy homeowner like you doesn’t have.

GreenMatch saves your time by providing up to 3 free quotes from local boiler installers after a quick 30-second questionnaire. Click the button below to get started.

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Can you buy a hydrogen boiler?

No. If you want to purchase a 100% hydrogen boiler now, it might take a while. Hydro boiler technology is in its early stage of development. So as with any new emerging technology, hydrogen boilers in the UK haven’t been widely commercialized yet. 

Moreover, in order to use a hydrogen boiler, you’ll need to have access to the hydrogen pipeline network which is still in development in the UK. This makes investing in hydrogen heating an impractical decision for now. 

However, this doesn’t mean there’s no way to see the hydrogen heating system in action. Boiler manufacturers have committed to producing hydrogen ready boilers for UK consumers. 

Best hydrogen ready boilers in the UK

Manufacturers like Baxi and Worcester Bosch have created functional prototypes of hydrogen boilers within the functionality of combi boilers. Let’s take a look at some of the hydrogen ready combi boiler solutions available on the UK market now. 

Best hydrogen ready boilers in the UK
Brand/ModelPriceEfficiencyFeatures
Viessmann Vitodens 050-W (combi)£2,500–£3,000A+A hydrogen-ready burner, anti-corrosion stainless steel heat exchanger, anti-hazard safety system
Worcester Bosch Greenstar 4000 (combi)£2,700–£3,200A+Built-in diagnostic system, anti-corrosion stainless steel heat exchanger
Baxi 600 (combi)£2,000–£2,500A+A stainless steel heat exchanger, anti-hazard safety devices
Ideal Logic (combi)£2,200–£2,700A+A stainless steel heat exchanger, anti-hazard safety devices

All of the above-mentioned hydrogen ready boilers can be easily converted to 100% hydrogen operation once this technology reaches its final stage. If you’re still not sure which heating system to replace your current boiler with, you’ll need to consult a professional. 

They could give you tailored advice about the hydrogen ready boiler for your property or consult you on grants for boilers you can apply for. However, searching for an engineer and the best deals can stretch for days and weeks, if done on your own. What if you don’t have that much time to spare? It’s highly unlikely you’re keen on spending your whole weekend searching for installers instead of having quality family time.

Thankfully, GreenMatch is here to offer you a stress-free shortcut. Fill out our 30-second form and we’ll connect you with up to 3 heating engineers near you. Compare the boiler quotes with no obligations to place any orders and pick the one that best fits your situation. Our service is free and non-binding, just click the button below to begin.

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Hydrogen boilers: The future of home heating in the UK?

Hydrogen boilers offer a range of benefits, including enhanced energy efficiency that can lead to cost savings on energy bills and a noteworthy reduction in carbon emissions, contributing to a greener future. These boilers provide the flexibility to not only heat homes and water but also generate electricity, making them an appealing and sustainable alternative to heat pumps.

Yet, several challenges remain on the path to widespread adoption in the UK. Hydrogen boiler technology is still in its early stages of development. This means that there may be some teething problems with the first generation of hydrogen boilers.

Moreover, the cost of hydrogen boilers presently exceeds that of traditional gas boilers, and the availability of hydrogen fuel is hindered by the absence of a national network of hydrogen pipelines. 

Despite these obstacles, there is substantial progress in the development of hydrogen boilers, with significant government investments in research and boiler manufacturers actively working on hydrogen-ready models. 

A professional boiler installer can help you take the first step toward a greener home today. 

GreenMatch can help you skip the tedious routine of searching for a qualified engineer. Complete our 30-second form and secure up to 3 quotes from boiler experts nearby. Compare their offers without committing to any orders. Click the button below to begin!

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FAQ

Anna Brui
Written by Anna Brui, Writer

Anna, a Writer at GreenMatch, transitioned from teaching to content creation, fueled by her passion for renewable energy and sustainability, inspiring readers to embrace eco-friendly practices.

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