Arup with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

Change and Transformation in the Public Sector

As the UK moves to meet its 2050 target of net zero carbon emissions, finding alternatives to natural gas as a domestic fuel is high on the government’s hitlist of priorities. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is looking at ways of decarbonising heat, and one of the options is replacing methane with hydrogen.

The three-and-a-half-year, £25m UK Hy4Heat programme, launched in end 2017, and its goal was to provide the technical, performance, usability, and safety evidence to de-risk the use of hydrogen and lay the groundwork for a community trial. Central to achieving this would be the development of a range of affordable hydrogen appliances, ready for use in homes and businesses.
Leading the programme was Arup+, a team that brought together Arup’s programme management expertise and thought leadership in energy and hydrogen, with other leaders in the field. Overcoming widespread scepticism in the gas industry about the technical and commercial viability of hydrogen technology, the evidence-based, stakeholder-led approach of Arup+ saw leading manufacturers and their consortia team up with academic partners to overcome challenges and develop the appliances that will be central to a community trial within just three years.

To generate further interest and turn the tide of hydrogen scepticism across the gas industry Arup+ undertook profile-raising activities. Arup+ presented at events and conferences of the UK energy sector, utilities and professional associations, including COP24 in Katowice. A Hy4Heat website was created where interested parties could access the latest technical papers and other information. Over the course of the programme almost 1,000 individuals from 500 different national and international organisations registered interest, including many who had declined to take part at its outset.

By creating a competitive environment for this surge of innovation, Arup+ laid the foundations for a consumer market of affordable, like-for-like, ‘hydrogen-ready’ appliances. Evidence from the programme has supported the government to commit to a ‘Hydrogen Neighbourhood’ and a potential ‘Hydrogen Town’ by 2030, and put the UK in the forefront of international efforts to develop safe, high-performance hydrogen technology for heating.

The programme has unlocked hydrogen innovation across the gas industry. BEIS funding created a competitive environment in which consortia were encouraged to defy the odds and develop fully-working prototypes within the timeframe, and lay the foundations of an entirely new hydrogen appliance market. The programme has moved UK hydrogen heating technology from a Technology Readiness Level of 1-2 to 8-9 on the scale: from a position of academic knowledge and understanding to one of commercial market-readiness.

The hydrogen appliances will be showcased in a at COP26 in Glasgow, and in two new show homes in Gateshead, due to open in April.

With the programme’s industry stakeholder group still growing and attracting interest from Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Turkey and the US, a hydrogen appliance market in the offing and the government committing to a hydrogen community trial, Hy4Heat may have played a crucial role in shaping the UK’s hydrogen future, and its journey towards net zero emissions.

View the Arup profile in the MCA Members Directory.