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First Hydrogen-Powered UK Homes to Be Built by April

The first homes in the UK fitted with boilers and hobs that run on hydrogen rather than fossil fuel gas will be constructed in Gateshead by April, in a glimpse of low-carbon homes of the future.

The two semi-detached properties in the North East will run on tanks of hydrogen supplied on site and use exclusively that gas for heating and cooking, with hydrogen boilers, hobs, cookers and fires. 

Hydrogen has been hailed as a means of decarbonising the UK’s heavily polluting heating systems. Currently, 85% of homes are heated with natural gas boilers which, along with gas hobs and cookers, are responsible for 30% of the UK’s emissions. Hydrogen, in contrast, burns cleanly, without releasing carbon dioxide, and could be blended with existing natural gas supplies or replace them entirely.

The Gateshead homes are the first step to the “hydrogen neighbourhoods” and even “hydrogen towns” planned by the government by the end of the decade. Energy minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the houses “will showcase how low-carbon hydrogen can transform the way we power our homes and offer a glimpse of what the future holds as we build back greener.”

Ministers are expected to shortly outline a detailed strategy for the future of hydrogen, which would include its use to slash emissions from transport and heavy industry. 

The Scottish government has already announced intentions to invest £100 million into hydrogen, to reach 5GW of renewable hydrogen capacity by 2030, enough to heat the equivalent of 1.8 million homes, and 25GW by 2045, with some to be exported.

However, some in the energy industry consider hydrogen too costly to produce cleanly and too dangerous for home use and have pushed instead for the use of electric heat pumps and hobs.

Hydrogen is expensive to produce cleanly because it requires either splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen with renewable energy, yielding “green hydrogen,” or splitting fossil fuel gas into “blue hydrogen” and using carbon capture technology to prevent the release of emissions.

The Gateshead project is just the latest trial testing hydrogen for domestic heating and cooking. From this spring, 670 homes in a Tyne and Wear village will be heated with a 20% mix of hydrogen and natural gas, delivered over the public gas grid, in a test run by Northern Gas Networks. This trial will mark the first time hydrogen is mixed into the public gas grid, although it has previously been injected into Keele University’s private gas network.

Meanwhile, in Fife 300 homes will become the first to use 100% green hydrogen delivered through a local gas grid, in a trial from SGN, backed by Ofgem and the Scottish government.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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