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Defining hydrogen ready appliances in commercial applications

With the UK Government’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions to a Net Zero, Steve McConnell, director of the Industrial and Commercial Heating Equipment Association (ICOM), clarifies the levels of hydrogen-readiness seen in new products on the market.

Steve McConnell, Director of the Industrial and Commercial Heating Equipment Association (ICOM)

In some sectors the movement towards decarbonisation is well underway, such as the electrical industry. Gas, however, still supplies a significant proportion of energy demand at peak times. It is becoming clear that there is no silver bullet approach to decarbonisation and a mixture of technologies is likely to be required.

With new technology entering the market, ICOM have released a whitepaper outlining the key definitions in an ever-complex industry, with the aim of making the transition towards decarbonisation as smooth as possible.

Strategising commercial heat

Decarbonising the commercial heating sector remains a tough task, there are a number of technologies available, yet all face significant barriers to entry. The energy trilemma is truly at its most acute in this sector.

Currently there are two main strategies for decarbonising buildings in the UK; expansion of heat pump uptake, or changeover to a low carbon hydrogen gas grid for properties on the existing gas network. In order to meet targets, the Committee for Climate Change has suggested both technologies should be employed, however, neither direction has a mass market pathway established.

Heading towards hydrogen

For the roll out of hydrogen gas compatible appliances there are broadly two routes:

Installation of hydrogen-ready appliances that work on natural gas, with the view to using a conversion kit to modify the system to use hydrogen gas at a future date

During the switch over to hydrogen gas, install new hydrogen gas appliances at the same time which have left the factory configured and tested to burn hydrogen gas

ICOM aim to establish the definition of hydrogen-ready non-domestic appliances that would be supplied with a 100% hydrogen gas concentration and includes boilers, water heaters, air and radiant heaters and burners.

Research & development

In the UK and Europe, projects such as HyDeploy and THyGA are assessing the potential to add hydrogen to the current gas networks to reduce carbon emissions and introduce a greener gas. HyDeploy have proved that blending up to 20% volume of hydrogen with natural gas is a safe and greener alternative to the gas we use now, showing customers do not have to change their appliances when adopting hydrogen technology. This equates to less disruption and cost passed on, incentivising the green switch.

While no difference in appliance performance, nor changes to appliances in people’s homes, commercial and process plants is anticipated, phase two will expand the research further to provide more evidence.

Defining: Hydrogen Blend

At the purchase point of a new gas product, manufacturers are communicating the benefits of being able to run on up to 20% hydrogen blend by including this logo.

Defining: Hydrogen Ready

As hydrogen-ready appliances are placed on the market, they will be identified with a label advising that they are manufactured to be suitable for use with natural gas up to a 20% blend of hydrogen. When converted by a gas safe registered engineer, these hydrogen ready appliances can then use a hydrogen concentration of up to 100%. This label identifies such products.

Defining: 100% Hydrogen

Any hydrogen gas appliance sold in the future for direct installation on a fully functioning 100% hydrogen gas network without conversion will be identified with the following label.

The Case for Clarification

It is undeniably beneficial for a label to identify a hydrogen-ready appliance to the end user, including make, model and serial number. ICOM are passionate about establishing a formal definition of a hydrogen ready appliance, ensuring the market remains simple, affordable and innovation is not limited.

https://www.icom.org.uk/resources/icom-hydrogen-ready-statement

12 April 2023

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