The case against hydrogen blending: A costly distraction

Building the UK's hydrogen economy needs a more strategic approach

A boiler display panel with a hand near the reset button.
Boiler circle gauge. The UK government is considering whether to allow up to 20% hydrogen blending in the gas grid. Photo by CORGI HomePlan via Flickr.

Blending hydrogen into the UK’s gas grid is the wrong approach to building the hydrogen economy. A 20% blend could increase household gas bills by 7–20%. Emission reductions would be a maximum of 7% – and likely a lot less. Moreover, blending could greenwash fossil gas, in turn derailing heat decarbonisation. A fairer, more strategic approach is required to support hydrogen deployment where it is most needed for net zero. 

The UK government is exploring whether to permit hydrogen blending of up to 20% in the gas grid. Our latest briefing sets out the case against doing so: 

  • Blending does not encourage strategic deployment of hydrogen in sectors where it is the primary option for decarbonisation. Without a strategic vision, blending risks locking in hydrogen for inefficient uses like domestic heating, at the expense of other sectors.   
  • Blending could hike energy bills for households and industry. Household bills could increase by anywhere between 7 and 20%. For the average medium property, a 16% increase in gas prices would represent a bill increase of £192 per year.  
  • Blending risks derailing domestic heat decarbonisation. Blending could risk greenwash if the public are told “gas has gone green”, when hydrogen-ready boilers will burn fossil fuels for decades. This could delay investment into genuinely zero-carbon heating and curtail strategic decisions about the future of the gas grid.  

A strategic approach to building the hydrogen economy

Blending hydrogen into the gas grid is not a “no regret” means to build a market for hydrogen producers. End-users in strategic industries will need certainty of a secure supply of hydrogen, but there are other ways the government can provide this. 

  1. Encourage the development of “hydrogen clusters” and incentivise co-location of production and demand.  
  2. Exclude hydrogen blending from government support schemes.  
  3. Produce a long-term road map providing clarity on the future shape of the UK’s hydrogen economy.  
  4. Use early low-carbon hydrogen to decarbonise existing grey hydrogen.  
  5. Find a fair funding solution for the hydrogen economy.  

Read the briefing here.


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