The government of the United Kingdom is currently consulting on whether it should mandate that all new gas boilers sold from 2025 be ‘hydrogen-ready’ — that is, they can potentially be converted to run on pure hydrogen in case the gas network is ever converted. This policy change has been proffered as a ‘low-regrets’ policy change.
The government is expected to take a decision on the use of hydrogen heating in 2026. Until such a decision is made, the mandating of ‘hydrogen-ready’ boilers seems to be a case of putting the cart before the horse. The vast majority of independent analysis suggests only a niche role for hydrogen in heating, with heat pumps and heat networks by far the most cost-effective technologies. Far from a ‘low-regrets’ option, the proposed mandate could create risks for heat decarbonisation and long-term disadvantages for consumers. There is a major risk of greenwashing leading to consumer confusion and delay, a risk that boiler prices increase and the potential for government to end up in a heat decarbonisation ‘blame-game.’
This brief details the risks of a ‘hydrogen-ready’ boiler mandate being made before the government’s decision on the use of hydrogen heating. The brief suggests that if hydrogen heating should be found favourable in 2026, only then should mandates around hydrogen boilers be considered and even then only in conjunction with a heatmapping process. Until such time, the proposed mandate of ‘hydrogen-ready’ boilers is also ‘regret-ready.’