Gas companies caught making false promises on hydrogen heating to sell more boilers




Investigations by Sky News and Open Democracy found that companies including British Gas and Worcester Bosch had made untrue claims about the likelihood and future costs of H2 heating


Boiler suppliers in the UK have been caught misleading customers about the likelihood and costs of using green hydrogen to heat their homes in the future, in an apparent attempt to sell more gas boilers.


Separate investigations by Sky News and independent media platform Open Democracy found that even well-respected companies such as British Gas and Worcester Bosch were telling customers that fossil gas will be replaced by 100% hydrogen in homes, even though the UK government has said it will not even make a decision on the prospect until 2026.


Sky News found that boiler maker Worcester Bosch — owned by German conglomerate Bosch — claimed on its website that hydrogen “is what the government will be introducing into the UK gas grid” and that “the UK will, eventually, switch from natural gas to 100% hydrogen”.


While this is still possible, it is far from certain, with UK energy secretary Grant Shapps saying in June that hydrogen for heating was “unlikely to be the way forward” for the UK.


Studies have also shown that using green hydrogen in homes would increase heating costs by an average of 70% by 2030, while questions remain around safety, infrastructure and the amount of renewable H2 that could feasibly be delivered — especially as the green H2 option would require about five to six times as much renewable energy as heat pumps to produce the same amount of heat.


Worcester Bosch removed the statements from its website after questions from Sky News.


Online retailer Boiler Central had a video on its website in which an adviser claimed: “With the push towards a greener future, most new boilers are now having the hydrogen-ready compatibility built into them, helping not only future-proof your investment of a new boiler, but ensuring your energy bills and carbon footprint remain as low as possible.”





Not only are there no 100%-hydrogen-ready boilers on the market in the UK today, but H2 heating would inevitably increase bills.


Again, Boiler Central removed the video from its website after being contacted by Sky News.


Separately, the investigation by Open Democracy into British Gas — the former UK monopoly, which is still one of the country’s largest energy suppliers — found that “heating sales advisors” were making wildly inaccurate claims about both hydrogen heating and heat pumps.


This suggests that even though British Gas sells and markets heat pumps, salespeople were prioritizing gas boiler sales.


Open Democracy says that it booked video and phone calls with three different British gas advisers about three different properties with conventional boilers, and told them to offer climate-friendly advice about their heating options.


Two advisers falsely claimed that the UK government had already decided to replace natural gas with hydrogen, while the third said the switch could being in six months’ time.


One falsely said that British Gas sold 100%-hydrogen-ready boilers and that “all the country will be hydrogen eventually… “so you have got your future covered there”.


Another incorrectly stated that there would be a 20% hydrogen, 80% fossil gas blend in UK networks in the next five to seven years, with the proportion of H2 gradually increasing.


The third also claimed that a 20% H2/80% gas blend was on its way, which would reduce heating bills as “the cost of hydrogen itself is deemed to be a lot cheaper as compared to natural gas”. This is patently false, not least because two to three times as much as H2 will be needed to produce the same amount of heat as fossil gas due to its lower energy content by volume — and almost all available H2 today is made from natural gas.


And one of the advisers also wrongly stated that it was a fact that a modern four-bedroom detached home was unsuitable for a heat pump, in complete contradiction of independent assessments.


Jo Alsop, founder of the Heating Hub, a website that offers independent heating advice to consumers, said that the advice against heat pumps was “deeply concerning”.


“It is clear the advisers were working to meet their own boiler sales targets rather than acting in any sort of advisory capacity as their [job] title suggests.”


Richard Lowes from the Regulatory Assistance Project, an independent global non-profit that advises governments on energy policy, said that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) should open an investigation into “hydrogen greenwashing” by the gas industry.


“The gas industry is desperate to protect its market share from the risk that truly green heating like heat pumps and heat networks poses to it,” he told Open Democracy.


“Household decision-making around something as important as heating our homes during a climate and energy security crisis cannot be unduly influenced by vested interests seemingly uninterested in solving the UK’s energy problems.”


Sabrina Basran, director of consumer protection at the CMA, said: “We’ll be publishing new guidance to help businesses meet their legal obligations when marketing products in the green heating and insulation sector, as well as considering whether further action, such as enforcement, is necessary.”


The CMA had previously warned in late May that businesses selling “hydrogen-ready” boilers were misleading the public.


“We are concerned that claims and messaging about hydrogen-capable boilers used by several businesses may constitute greenwashing and mislead consumers into thinking that these products are more environmentally friendly or ‘greener’ than they are,” the CMA said in its 102-page report into the matter.


British Gas owner Centrica said the misleading advice given to Open Democracy were “isolated” incidents.



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