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#H2Explainer: How can data deliver smarter heating systems?

18 March 2022

Press contacts for journalists

Ed Gill

Communications Lead, Gas Goes Green

+44 (0)20 4599 7684

ENA Press Office

At the Port of Milford Haven, energy networks are harnessing data to use both hydrogen and renewable electricity to reduce carbon emissions from heating.

What can smart heating do to reduce our carbon emissions?

85% of Britain’s homes rely on our world-leading gas networks for heating, hot water and cooking – but we need to reduce our average household’s carbon emissions from nearly three tonnes today to just 135kg by 2050, by replacing the natural gas that they deliver. That’s a drop of 95%.

In Milford Haven, and as part of the UK Research and Innovation-funded Milford Haven:Energy Kingdom project, Wales & West Utilities is demonstrating how one such system can help do that, using a hydrogen-fuelled boiler paired with an electrically powered heat pump using smart controls – a ‘hybrid’ heating system.

Hybrid heating systems flexibly switch between using renewable electricity and green gases like hydrogen. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that produces zero carbon emissions during combustion, whilst the electricity used for the heat pump can be used at those times when there is most renewable electricity being fed into the grid.

Using clean fuel in this way will enable the full decarbonisation of heat whilst ensuring cost and carbon emissions reductions are also prioritised. The project builds on Wales & West Utilities and Western Power Distribution’s ground-breaking ‘Freedom’ hybrid heating project.

For many existing homes and businesses, hybrid heating systems offer an affordable and practical way to decarbonise heating, by offering them the best of both worlds when it comes to green technologies.

So what’s the role of data in that?

Kiwa UK have delivered bottled hydrogen to the Worcester Bosch hydrogen boiler that forms part of the system, to simulate periods when renewable electricity was unavailable to run the heat pump, or when a temperature boost was required.

The smart controls are designed by Passiv UK and integrated with the system seamlessly, automatically switching between the air source heat pump and the hydrogen boiler. To do that, every 2 minutes the system accesses and assesses data on what types of electricity generation (gas, nuclear, wind or solar, for example) are being used on the national grid alongside information on renewable electricity availability on the local grid - and requests the boiler to run on hydrogen accordingly. 

If you want to read more, click here and check out our new document, ‘Introducing Britain’s Smart Gas Grid’, which you can find to the right of this page.

Notes to editor

Gas Goes Green #H2Explainers are a series of blogs setting all the key information you need to know about how Britain’s gas networks are working to deliver hydrogen to our homes, as part of our 'Tomorrow's Heat, Today's Opportunity' campaign. Check out the ENA Newsroom to find other articles and updates from both gas and electricity network companies.

Image credit: Wales & West Utilities.

About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.

ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.

Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.

What are energy network operators?

Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 40,000 people in Great Britain.

More information

Press contacts for journalists

Ed Gill

Communications Lead, Gas Goes Green

+44 (0)20 4599 7684

ENA Press Office