My Telegraph Article on Hydrogen and Energy

The government takes its net zero ambitions seriously . It  is embarking on a trial village scheme to see if we could all heat our homes with hydrogen. Many people would prefer to keep their current boilers and pipes and switch to hydrogen when it is safe and affordable to do so. Heat pumps are a hard sell with doubts expressed about the costs of  installing them, the costs of running them and the adequacy of the heat in older homes. The government  have various issues to trial around hydrogen  safety, leaks and affordability.  When would the cost of it come down? Will it  become competitive with current natural gas charges?  Is it a priority to introduce it into homes, or to develop it for powering trucks and heavy plant where batteries are more difficult?

The truth is the green revolution cannot take off until there are products and services people want to buy and can afford that will take natural gas and solid fuel heating out of homes and replace diesel and petrol vehicles. For this reason government has concentrated more on getting the electricity industry to make a major change to how it generates its power first, and has instructed business to put themselves on a faster joruney to net zero than individuals and families. There is no point in making people go electric if  generation is not green.  The danger is in doing so the government intervenes too much in our energy  system, raising costs and charges and damaging national resilience and supply. It is not a green win if the UK replaces domestically produced gas with imported LNG, as that produces far more CO2 in its compression, transport and conversion than using our own gas from a North Sea field by pipe. Nor is it a world win if we make energy too expensive here driving steel, ceramics and other energy industries out of the country. We will then have the additional CO2 for transporting the imports as well as losing the jobs and tax revenue.

In its latest Energy Bill the government proposes making an additional tax charge on energy users to cover the costs of some of the development work on hydrogen. This is the latest in a series of extra taxes on energy. We have very  high carbon taxes through an emissions trading scheme which the UK has made severe. There are windfall taxes on energy profits. The rate of general business profits tax has been raised by 31% this year. The costs of getting permits and complying with all of the requirements if you still want to put in a power station, drill for gas or build a wind farm have also gone up, whilst the electricity grid is not large enough for the extra renewables wanting to use it. The main energy policy seems to be to get investors to put in  more pipes and cables to the continent so we can import more, especially when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining and we are short of power. This model results in yet dearer energy as we have to bid into a European  market that is often short of power itself.

There has to be some end to this policy of ever more taxes and  interventions. Some  industries in the UK are not competitive today because of our energy costs. Government then has to boost public spending by granting sbsidies to industries that cannot survive with current energy prices, giving back some of the taxes it has imposed. This is a self destroying money go round, where not imposing the tax in the first place would be a better answer.


  1. Bloke
    May 21, 2023

    If there is any consumer benefit, demand will pull it.
    Pushing subsidies distorts cost efficiency.

  2. Lifelogic
    May 21, 2023

    Of course houses “can” be heated using hydrogen but it is far more expensive and problematic than using natural gas/methane so why would one? We have no hydrogen mines anyway. Hydrogen is just a very inefficient and expensive way to store (rather superior in flexibility) electrical energy as more inflexible and wasteful chemical energy. Creating the hydrogen will create more CO2 than just burning methane anyway even if they (wrongly) think CO2 is a serious problem anyway. Even wind power needs loads of concrete, diesel ships, steel, diesel boats… to build and maintain as does nuclear. It also need gas, coal and absurdly wood for back up. Plus we have no spare wind power anyway.

    If they are fitting all those heat pumps and moving to EVs we will need vastly more electricity and far better networks too.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 21, 2023

      Having build all these intermittent “renewables” we occasionally get excess electricity that is not needed hence the (largely idiotic in my view) push to try to store this as so called “green” hydrogen. A hugely expensive and very energy efficient process though. Far better to use this for heating with or even without heat pumps for commercial building, swimming pools, freezers etc. as these can safely be driven intermittently within certain limits.

      It does not matter when these things are heated up a bit or cooled a bit so long as the temp is kept within a suitable range.

      Converting electricity that is worth far more than gas per KWH back to a chemical energy store of hydrogen (worth far less) and wasting money and energy plus storage and transmission issues in the process is bonkers. Even more so if you want to convert it back to electricity later you will then waste circa 70% of the energy.

      Heatpumps to heat swimming pools and to cool freezers make sense as you can get good efficiency (COPs) as you are not pumping the heat up many degrees. Perhaps from 10c to 28c or even 20c to 28c in summer. Surely more sensible than green hydrogen – other than in a few very special cases perhaps.

      Swimming pools near freezer site can make a lot of sense the waste heat from the freezers heating the pool and building.

    2. Richard1
      May 21, 2023

      It is not very clear how a house would be heated by hydrogen. If pumped through pipes a completely new network will be needed, and even then it’s not clear it will be remotely economic to use long pipes capable of containing hydrogen in gas form given the size of the molecule and other issues such as pipes becoming brittle. In theory it could be delivered in liquid form (boiling point -253C) but that hardly seems practical and would also obviously require mass refitting of equipment and infrastructure.

      More sensible would be to think of hydrogen fuel for large scale industrial use and potentially as energy storage as we don’t seem to be anywhere near large scale chemical batteries. But then we need to think how the hydrogen is produced in the first place – there are nascent projects looking at doing this in a truly green way, but they are early stage. Only if they turn out to work will hydrogen be a sensible alternative.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 21, 2023

        It is not a sensible option at all. Far too expensive and hugely energy wasteful. Storing electrical energy when it is not needed makes little sense. Why generate it when it is not needed! The best thing to do with it is use it via smart meters for non too time critical uses like heating swimming pools, large buildings, freezers to a degree, charging cars (though you want it not to be empty in the morning) and similar.

  3. Mark B
    May 21, 2023

    Good morning.

    We will have to pay for the development of Hydrogen and Carbon Capture. But where will the profits go if either of these madcap schemes proves profitable ? Not to the taxpayer that is for sure.

    In an open market, is someone wanted to develop a product they would start a company and try and raise investment. Those who are willing to invest do so knowing that there is both risk and reward. Since the government feels that we are to take the risk and leave the rewards to someone else, I can only conclude that government is nothing more than an unwanted parasite.

    It will come to pass that, sooner or later we will have to generate our own domestic energy as this will be cheaper and cut the middle-man (government) out of the equation.

  4. James1
    May 21, 2023

    “There has to be some end to this policy of ever more taxes and interventions.”

    Unfortunately not before the electorate obliterates the (non)Conservative Party at the next election.

    1. anon
      May 21, 2023

      Forget democracy, accountability promises etc to the electorate it is just not allowed to work therefore it does not exist here.

      Its like Mao’s great leap forward, but just for the west, the irony must be delicious.
      No energy /food for the poor , private jet flights ,excess for the rich.
      No cars for the poor , super guzzlers for the rich (ulez compliant).
      Border control for the taxpayers, zero control of the borders and crime for ‘ those deemed special’.

      More people are understanding , but will there be anything left of the country.

      Th resultant exploitation of culture differences by the marxist will lead to problems when solidarity is required.

      It really seems they are hellbent on creating wars and internal strife to wipe out the debts and zero the population excepting themselves ofcourse.

    2. British Patriot
      May 21, 2023

      The Conservative government’s belief in Man-Made Climate Change (MMCC) has all the essence of a religious faith. And just like the cultist followers of Jim Jones were willing to commit mass suicide (and those who weren’t were murdered by the believers), so we are being asked to kill our economy to satisfy the beliefs of our insane and fanatical leaders (from Tony Blair, who introduced the Climate Change Act, to Sunak today) – and those who object will be coerced. It is impossible to reason with these lunatics. They refuse to listen. The only answer is to destroy the party, so that a more sensible one can emerge in its place.

  5. Peter Gardner
    May 21, 2023

    Sir John Redwood is trying use logic to defeat emotion. It can’t be done when the intensity of that emotion is at the level of a reigious cult. As with children, fear can only be calmed by either pointing out the danger exists only in their imaginations and is not real, or by taking the danger away. The former takes decades and is therefore not practicable. The latter also takes decades and would require a demonstration of global cooling as we had in the 1970s. Again, too slow and impractical. Children grow up and sort themselves out but CAGW catastrophists do not. Instead they impart their quasi-religion to children through education, through TV and film drama and comedy plots, even through the weather forecasts.
    Fear is the most powerful force that politicians can harness. Fear breeds more fear. Hence the targeting of the young.
    Many on the right asserted that Covid lockdowns were a conspiracy: the Great Reset, or at the very least, a test of Great Reset tactics or a rehearsal for the real thing. Nonsense, of course. But if there is a Great Reset, CAGW is a more suitable and more likely vehicle. It will be here for some decades and, learning from the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, the Catastrophists have captured the educational establishment to get to our children.

    1. Hat man
      May 21, 2023

      Before you decide what’s nonsense and what’s a rehearsal, Peter, may I respectfully suggest you google ‘Event 201’. It would be nice to hear back from you, once you have. But you are certainly right on your main point.

  6. Elli Ron
    May 21, 2023

    The basic problem is that we do not produce enough energy to support the grand plans for electrification, the gap is huge and unbridgeable by 2050.
    The result is that most of the Hydrogen we will produce will be by using fossil fuels, which is economically and logically ridiculous.
    This is primarily a coalition between the industry looking and lobbying for a new way to make huge profits and the green cult which doesn’t care for the perversity of the scheme as long as it’s “green”.

  7. Clough
    May 21, 2023

    As you say, Sir John, It is not a green win if we replace domestically produced gas with imported LNG. But then suppose you ask who it is a win for. Who is selling us LNG?
    According to a government source, ‘The USA replaced Qatar as the largest import source to the UK. US LNG imports accounted for half of total LNG imports in 2022, having only accounted for 1 per cent five years prior. US imports to the UK more than tripled in 2022 compared with 2021.’
    So in the last two years we have massively reoriented our energy supplies towards a very high cost source. Why we have we done this – to bash Putin? Surely not, we in Britain were importing rather little gas from Russia anyway. You have shown in your articles here what this government is doing: reducing availability of North Sea gas by putting obstacles in the way of further exploitation. Also, constructing supply connections to the European mainland. I wonder if that was merely an unintended consequence or the idea from the start: make this country more dependent on foreign energy sources.

  8. DOM
    May 21, 2023

    Will John question the very existence of the thing ‘they’ term climate change on his blog? I bet he doesn’t. Is it a criminal offence to question such a thing now?

    Al Gore introduce the idea of CC. I realised then that climate would be weaponised to control individual choice. A filthy Washington politician talking bollox and being taken seriously cannot end well

  9. Charles Breese
    May 21, 2023

    Being able to make pragmatic decisions about complex long term issues requires, inter alia, a combination of high level strategic thinking skills/commonsense and helicopter vision – the points raised in the article suggest that within the public sector these skills are sadly lacking.

  10. turboterrier
    May 21, 2023

    Your very excellent article just confirms what nearly all sensible people already know.
    The government’s energy policies are just a terrible mess and is totally unsustainable.
    That is why our other competitors are back tracking as fast as their reverse gear will allow.
    It is that 1940s moment. Stand up against and defeat the globalists or capitulate and live in their controlled new world order.

  11. Berkshire Alan
    May 21, 2023

    Many trade magazines report that we do not have enough trained installers of training places to fit the numbers of heat pumps the government suggest they would like, likewise it is not just the fitting of heat pumps which is the problem, many houses and systems are not suitable without major modification to internal (underfloor) pipework and radiators, which will cause huge disruption and expense, and in particular with solid floors.
    Then of course have the cost !

    1. turboterrier
      May 21, 2023

      B A
      Totally correct on all counts.
      If you apply the Basic Hrdraulic Principles to an existing heating system with ASHP with lower temperatures the systems will be undersized.
      My neighbours house with a mixed fuel system has just been updated where most of the existing pipework had to be replaced due to age, condition and undersized. All she would say was for the first time ever she can notice the difference when the heating was on and the hot water was like night and day.
      The cost? “Thousands unquote”
      She is holding off from changing her kerosene boiler on the advice of her service engineer.

  12. Bryan Harris
    May 21, 2023

    There has to be some end to this policy of ever more taxes and interventions. Some industries in the UK are not competitive today because of our energy costs.

    Indeed – but what does that matter?
    In any case the wealth transfer will continue until the very end. There are only taxes and more taxes.

    As HMG continues with their daily theatre to make it look like everything is normal – the Business Secretary jets out on a ÂŁ1trillion trade mission.

    JUST WHAT IS THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS THEATRE…. When the country is going to be closed down by 2030 for NET-ZERO?

  13. glen cullen
    May 21, 2023

    Everything flows from your policy of net-zero

  14. turboterrier
    May 21, 2023

    Seems you are not the only one Sir John.
    Well worth a read

    Lord Frost warns: Hurtling towards net zero at any cost will be a mistake

  15. turboterrier
    May 21, 2023

    Same meat different gravy. It’s a worldwide thing.

    Nuclear Now: Time to Scrap Subsidised Wind & Solar Scam & Back Serious Power Generation

    Chris Bowen’s Simpsons moment on nuclear power called out
    Courier Mail
    James Morrow
    15 May 2023

    Energy Minister Chris Bowen has been accused of getting his knowledge of small modular reactors from The Simpsons at a Senate hearing where the government was accused of an “embarrassing” scare campaign against nuclear energy at the same time nations around the world are starting or expanding their own nuclear programs.

  16. turboterrier
    May 21, 2023

    B A
    Totally correct on all counts.
    If you apply the Basic Hrdraulic Principles to an existing heating system with ASHP with lower temperatures the systems will be undersized.
    My neighbours house with a mixed fuel system has just been updated where most of the existing pipework had to be replaced due to age, condition and undersized. All she would say was for the first time ever she can notice the difference when the heating was on and the hot water was like night and day.
    The cost? “Thousands unquote”
    She is holding off from changing her kerosene boiler on the advice of her service engineer.

  17. Original Richard
    May 21, 2023

    The whole purpose of Net Zero is to :

    – Make us energy insecure with unreliable and expensive power from renewables.

    – Reduce our wealth and security through the forced use of expensive and impractical electrification.

    – Force us to accept restrictions and rationing of energy, food, travel and creature comforts.

    There is no global warming emergency caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions as proved by the historical records and the fact that increasing CO2 from its current low level has no warming effect because of IR saturation as shown by Happer & Wijngaarden and which has never been refuted by the IPCC.

    If CO2 was a problem, then energy dense, abundant and reliable nuclear would have been selected to produce our low CO2 emission power and not expensive, unreliable, resource intensive renewables.

  18. Dave Rob
    May 21, 2023

    Pleae see the attached link from the Daily Telegraph written by an experienced power systems engineer. Note especially his views on hydrogen.

  19. Clough
    May 21, 2023

    SJR You say the government has instructed businesses to put themselves on a faster journey to net zero than individuals and families. I wonder who the government got those instructions from. But since in 2020-2021 the government and the WEF were proclaiming the same slogan – ‘Build Back Better’ – perhaps it’s not too difficult to guess.

  20. Mark
    May 21, 2023

    From the introduction to my submission on the “non-price factors for CFDs” consultation:

    It is seeking to find back door ways of increasing subsidies while trying to maintain a fiction about the real costs of renewables by handing out subsidies in the manner of a medieval monarch doling out royal warrants and charters to preferred favourites.

  21. Geoffrey Berg
    May 22, 2023

    As the latest controversy shows, politics has been becoming ever more outrageous. Anybody in government with any ability at variance with the liberal-left pseudo-intellectual consensus is being hounded by media, civil service and of course opposition parties and rather often their own Party.
    Recently there was Boris Johnson even though the actual electors showed in 2019 that most weren’t concerned with the tittle-tattle which was known about and highlighted by dissident ‘Conservative’ M.P.s prior to his election victory in 2019. Then there was Nadhim Zahawi, driven out by a tax penalty nobody would have bothered about had it not been to a freethinking Conservative politician. Now Suella Braverman, a very talented orator, and a politician who almost uniquely radically thinks politics out independently for herself is being hounded for asking her civil servants whether her penalty might be discreetly dealt with so that the government’s Chief Law Officer (and now chief law enforcer), guilty of a minor infringement of motoring law (like millions of others) might avoid publicity. It is overlooked that this problem arose not so much because of the minor legal infringement but because she was Chief Law Officer, making it legitimate for her to examine with her civil servants if she could use a way (apparently used by some celebrities) to avoid bringing the law itself into some disrepute (with people naturally questioning its validity and credibility if the most senior lawmakers themselves transgressed it). Even if that had not been the position nobody should be condemned for having mere conversations with people, even civil servants, that are not strictly relevant to business (which I freely admit I frequently do, discussing both my political views and my atheism with tenants, letting agents etc.;).

  22. John de los Angeles
    May 22, 2023

    Just brilliant. I could not agree more.

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