Hydrogen boilers might need ‘four-inch holes in walls to prevent explosions’


By Paul Homewood

The madness continues!

Households that have hydrogen boilers installed could be forced to drill a 4×4-inch hole in their wall to mitigate risks of explosion, according to recommendations in a government-backed safety report.

Residents in a neighbourhood being considered for a trial of hydrogen for home heating have been alarmed by a report’s recommendation that rooms with boilers hobs or substantial pipework “should have non-closable vents with [an] equivalent area of 10,000 mm2”.

The report, by Arup, the design consultants, said these should be located as close to the ceiling level as possible and no more than 50cm below ceiling level.

The same report, which came out in 2019, said that hydrogen for home heating could cause four times as many explosions and injuries than gas boilers without sufficient mitigations, including ventilation.

The report, which is based on a two-storey, masonry-built, terraced house with a basement and a loft conversion, will be used to inform the trials of hydrogen for home heating expected to go ahead from 2025.

Whitby, in the Cheshire town of Ellesmere Port, is one of two neighbourhoods being considered for conversion to hydrogen, with the final decision expected to be made by the Government this year.

In discussions with residents, representatives from Arup and gas network Cadent, which is bidding to run the trial, have said most homes will not require the maximum ventilation given the draughtiness of much of the UK’s housing stock.

Kate Grannell, a resident of Whitby who has led opposition to the plans for the hydrogen trial, said the assurances had not allayed concerns.

She said: “All we’ve done for decades is insulate and draught-proof our houses. So to say homes are leaky enough to void the requirements for ventilation, I think is a really big question.”

Richard Lowes, an energy expert at the Regulatory Assistance Project, said that it ran counter to efforts to reduce draughts and insulate homes to reduce emissions.

He said: “We’re trying to make building more energy efficient and putting in a 10-centimetre hole is doing the opposite of that. So it’s totally backwards.

“To counteract the heat loss, you’d have to have more heat so it is making hydrogen more inefficient. We already know that hydrogen will be more expensive, so it’s making that even more expensive.”


Hydrogen for home heating could cause four times as many explosions and injuries than gas boilers, according to a report CREDIT: Sem van der Wal/ANP/AFP via Getty Images