How will Northern Ireland heat its homes in the future?

The UK government has committed to a target of reducing carbon emissions to Net Zero by the year 2050. 

Currently, we produce 22% of our carbon emissions from heating our homes.  Therefore we need to reduce carbon emissions from home heating to achieve Net Zero targets.

Future Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Department for Economy has recently published a new Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland.  The full document can be viewed here NI Energy Strategy

What does the Energy Strategy say about how NI will heat its homes in the future?

We will not be able to use just one new technology as a single solution for Northern Ireland.  The solution for Northern Ireland will likely be based on a combination of technologies:

  • We can use the existing gas network to distribute lower / zero-carbon fuels.  For example,  Biomethane and Hydrogen (see below)
  • People in areas not on the Gas-Grid may need to use Heat Pumps.
  • We will need to improve Energy Efficiency Measures in our homes.  For example, we need to install more insulation.

Role of Biomethane in how NI will heat its homes in the future

If gas networks can inject biomethane into the natural gas network it will help Northern Ireland to meet Net Zero targets.  People will not need to change their existing boilers as a result of using biomethane.  Therefore consumers will be able to benefit from this renewable energy without the cost and disruption of replacing existing appliances.

What is Biomethane?

Biomethane is a clean, sustainable gas produced from organic material. For example; green waste; food industry waste; agricultural waste and industrial waste. It involves a biological process known as anaerobic digestion.  Microorganisms break down the material in the absence of oxygen. One of the end products is biogas. This gas can be burned to generate electricity and heat.  Or it can be cleaned to remove impurities and upgraded to biomethane. This can then be injected into the gas distribution network. This process is particularly suitable for Northern Ireland given our large agricultural sector.  Read more about Biomethane in the NI Gas network

Role of Hydrogen in how NI will heat its homes in the future

The International Energy Agency (IEA)  recently recommended a ban on all new fossil fuel-burning boilers from 2025 onwards. However, they recommend that this would not apply to boilers that are equipped to run on hydrogen.

The IEA predict that over the next 15 years hydrogen will be gradually introduced to the natural gas network.   Initially, gas distributors will blend it with natural gas. The IEA predicts that by 2030 there will be on average a 15% hydrogen blend in gas networks.

Hydrogen Ready Boilers

Refresh is committed to installing Worcester Bosch Boilers which are equipped to run on a 20% Hydrogen/80% Natural Gas blend. Click here to see Refresh Boiler Replacement services

Customers who install one of these can be confident the boiler will continue to be effective over its life.  They will also be playing their part in the road to net zero by reducing their carbon footprint.

Worcester is also developing boilers that will be able to run on 100% Hydrogen.  These would therefore not generate any carbon emissions at all.