Energy crisis horror as Britons to pay 'nearly double' in bills thanks to green plans

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New research has warned that the Government’s plans to use hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas could end up nearly doubling the household bills by the end of the decade. Cornwall Insight, who are leading energy analysts that calculated many of the expected price rises in household bills over the past few months, warned using hydrogen in home heating could end up being more expensive than natural gas. Over the past year, the UK has faced an unprecedented fossil fuel energy crisis, as the skyrocketing costs of wholesale gas were poised to set household bills soaring above £3,500 from October before Prime Minister Liz Truss announced a bill freeze at £2,500. Since this crisis is linked to the astronomical wholesale gas costs, the Government has focused its efforts on alternative sources of energy, including renewables like wind and solar power, while also developing new sources like hydrogen. 

To accelerate the shift to green hydrogen, the Government is proposing a “twin-track” move towards hydrogen, with blue hydrogen being used in conjunction with carbon capture technology to reduce its climate impact.

When powered by renewable electricity, the hydrogen produced is labelled as green, however, when generated using natural gas, the hydrogen subsequently formed is labelled blue.

Those in favour of using hydrogen as an energy source have highlighted one main benefit,  which is that the gas could be blended in with natural gas, and could use the same infrastructure as currently in most households in the UK. 

This means that millions of Britons would not have to replace their gas boilers with energy-efficient heat pumps, which are generally far more expensive, although they significantly reduce bills. 

While households could avoid paying the costs of an expensive heat pump, a new report has warned that Britons could end up paying a massive bill for the hydrogen pumped through boilers. 

A new report, commissioned by renewable energy charity MCS Foundation found that between now and 2050, which is when the country is legally bound to reach net zero, using hydrogen would add about 70 percent to household energy bills compared with using gas.

Jitendra Patel, a senior consultant at Cornwall Insight, said: “While hydrogen does have a part to play in the decarbonisation pathway, through for example use in the industrial sectors and in the use of surplus electricity, current and forecast costs all show it is simply uneconomical to use 100 percent hydrogen fuel for heating our homes.”

The Government is currently planning to blend hydrogen with natural gas and pump it through the country’s gas networks, before eventually moving onto a large scale rollout of hydrogen to household boilers, most of which could potentially accept hydrogen. 

READ MORE: Energy lifeline as Britons urged to install heat pumps and save bills

Earlier this month, Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “I think hydrogen is ultimately the silver bullet. We create it from renewable sources… we use it as an effective battery and it can then, with some adjustments, be piped through to people’s houses to heat them during the winter”

In Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget on Friday, the Government vowed to boost five major hydrogen infrastructure projects. 

However, experts like Michael Liebreich, chair of Liebreich Associates have slammed these ideas, tweeting: “Heating with hydrogen from renewable energy is 6 times less efficient than using the same electricity in a heat pump.

“I don’t know a single serious energy analyst not affiliated with the gas industry who thinks hydrogen heating will be a thing.”

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Meanwhile, Sam Hall, the director of the Conservative Environment Network tweeted: “heat pumps are likely to lead to significantly cheaper energy bills for households than converting the gas grid to green hydrogen.”

While hydrogen could raise energy bills for households, multiple reports have shown that renewable energy like wind is significantly cheaper than fossil fuels, with a recent report finding that offshore wind power contracts are currently nine times cheaper than wholesale gas costs. 

Analysis by the Carbon Brief found that the Government had granted a number of contracts to offshore wind farm producers to generate electricity at an average price of £48 per megawatt hour (MWh).

This is nine times cheaper than the £446/MWh current cost of running gas-fired power stations.



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