Peers will vote on a law that could force people to use hydrogen boilers

The peers will vote on a law that would give gas distribution networks (GDNs) the power to force people to use hydrogen boilers without their consent.

The Energy Bill, which is due to be tabled in the House of Lords on Tuesday, gives GDNs the same entry powers that are used to force adjustment of prepaid meters and the government has been accused of being “unable to to learn their own lessons.”

A hydrogen tax is also proposed that could make consumers pay more on their energy bills from 2025 to finance hydrogen production, though the government said policy developments on the tax are still ongoing.

Some homeowners in Whitby, Ellesmere Port and Redcar, Teesside, where hydrogen trials have been proposed, said they don’t want hydrogen and worry it would be less safe, less energy efficient and more expensive than gas or electric heat pumps. .

Up to 2,000 homes in each area are subject to the proposed test, which Baroness Worthington has dubbed “villages of the damned”.

Cadent, the Whitby GDN, and Northern Gas Networks, the Redcar GDN, are submitting rival bids this month to test the feasibility of a natural gas-free domestic heating network.

If successful, a trial will begin in 2025 and run for two years with funding provided by energy regulator Ofgem.

Under the proposed new legislation, GDNs will have the right to enter anyone’s home for any reason related to the trial if they live within the marked zone.

The government said no one will be forced to use hydrogen and anticipates GDNs would only use powers of entry as a last resort “and only once all other attempts to contact owners and reach an agreement have been exhausted.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero said: “The hydrogen heating village trial will provide essential evidence to inform strategic government decisions in 2026 on the role of hydrogen in decarbonising heat.

“No trials will take place without strong local support. This will be a critical factor in the final selection of the trial location, and consumer rights will be protected before, during and after the trial.”

Northern Gas Networks said it would have to enter someone’s home if they refused to have their gas turned off because it would prevent the trial from proceeding safely.

Cadent said he would only enter someone’s home to ensure their safety using the powers gas companies already have to protect people from leaks.

Both GDN said that electric alternatives are available for those who do not want hydrogen boilers.

Sarah Biermann Becker, Senior Researcher at Global Witness, said: “Forcing homes to heat with hydrogen is frighteningly reminiscent of some of the dynamics in the recent prepaid meter scandal, which was rightly considered an outrage.

“And by adding additional costs to already unaffordable bills, from which power companies will benefit, it is clear that this is a government utterly incapable of learning its own lessons.

“Hydrogen heating will be expensive, dangerous and bad for the climate.”

A Northern Gas Networks spokesperson said: “Redcar residents are our priority. This is a government led project to demonstrate the role that gas networks can play in decarbonising domestic heating.

“We will work with each trial participant to identify what works for them and their home or business, with a choice between hydrogen and electricity.”

A Cadent spokesperson added: “We continue to proactively engage with Whitby residents, listening to the broad church of views coming from across the community and this feedback will be reflected in our submission to Government.

“As we collectively work towards decarbonising heating, we believe a variety of technologies and a variety of energy source options will be required, and these must be delivered through a collective effort, in a way that works for customers. and their needs”.

Professor David Cebon, from the University of Cambridge and the Coalition for Hydrogen Science, said: “The government’s own safety assessment indicated that it is unsafe to bring hydrogen into homes without prior safety checks and plumbing changes.

“So, for the hydrogen tests to be safe, all appliances and plumbing in every home in the test area would have to be switched to run on hydrogen or disconnected from the gas grid.

“If any household refuses to cooperate, then, in theory, the current draft of the Energy Law gives gas companies the right to break into their homes.”


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