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Historic homes heated with 100% hydrogen boilers in ‘world-first pilot’

Baxi’s parent company, BDR Thermea Group, the manufacturer of smart indoor climate solutions, has launched a ‘world-first’ pilot using its 100% hydrogen boilers in 12 inhabited homes with hydrogen supplied via an existing natural gas grid.

The pioneering pilot in the eastern Dutch town of Lochem is the first time hydrogen heating is being tested at this scale anywhere in the world. The detached listed houses, all built around 1900, will each be equipped with one of the boilers, which burn pure hydrogen with zero carbon emissions. The hydrogen is fed into the existing gas grid at a nearby industrial zone.

A collaboration between BDR Thermea’s Dutch brand Remeha and grid operator Alliander, the pilot will run for three years, ensuring extensive testing in wintertime, when heat demand peaks. The houses were deliberately chosen as older residential housing stock, with restrictions to the changes that can be made to them due to their heritage status.  Bertrand Schmitt, chief executive of BDR Thermea Group, said: “Heating of buildings and water contributes significantly to energy use and CO2 emissions: space heating accounts for 63.6% and water heating 14.8% of EU residential energy use. Decarbonising buildings is therefore an urgent imperative, and hydrogen is one of the key technologies to do this, alongside heat networks, all-electric heat pumps and hybrid solutions that twin heat pumps with gas boilers.”

The landmark pilot builds on a raft of exploratory projects involving Baxi and the wider BDR Thermea Group.

Baxi is currently participating in the Government-funded Hy4Heat programme, which sees the manufacturer showcase prototype hydrogen boilers at the UK’s first 100% hydrogen public demonstration in Low Thornley, near Gateshead. Meanwhile, its boilers are also being used for the world’s first green hydrogen-to-homes heating network pilot, involving 300 homes in Levenmouth, Fife, and are set to be used for the UK’s first ‘hydrogen village’ in Whitby, Ellesmere Port, in 2025.

Karen Boswell, managing director at Baxi UK & Ireland, adds: “The pilot in Lochem demonstrates our ongoing commitment to exploring installer-friendly home heating solutions for the future – in this case supplying hydrogen via the familiarity of an existing gas network. We recognise the important role a hydrogen-compatible grid could play in decarbonising UK homes and will use insights from this pioneering trial to accelerate that drive.”

As part of BDR Thermea Group, Baxi is pioneering a greener future through a series of commitments to sustainability in addition to its pilot projects. The business has committed to be carbon neutral across its operations by 2025, while every product it manufactures from 2025 will work with low carbon energy.

Recent research commissioned by the European Heating Industry and published by consultancy firm Guidehouse shows that a mix of heating technologies is the fastest way to cut natural gas consumptions in 2030 by 45%, and would generate an aggregated cost benefit of over EUR 520 billion until 2050.

Heat pumps play a key role in decarbonising heating and are perfect for well-insulated houses and newbuilds. Hybrids can reduce carbon emissions quickly in less-insulated existing buildings, reducing gas use by up to 70%. In time, the remaining gas use can be cut by using renewable gases, such as green hydrogen.


7 December 2022


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