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Welcome to the hydrogen-heated home

The UK government has confirmed the country’s first test homes completely relying on hydrogen for heating will be opened to the public, researchers and educators in April.

The two semi-detached homes will showcase working hydrogen appliances in a domestic setting. They will demonstrate the potential of hydrogen as a direct lower carbon alternative to existing natural gas boilers. The UK currently relies on natural gas for the majority of its domestic heating needs. Up to a third of the country’s greenhouse emissions come from central heating.

As one of several options expected to help the UK eliminate carbon emissions from homes and businesses, hydrogen has been chosen because it does not produce any carbon at the point of use for purposes such as heat generation.

The demonstration homes have been funded as part of Hy4Heat, a project overseeing an interconnected research and innovation program that studies the role of hydrogen as a low carbon gas.

The two buildings are intended to operate for a period of three years, although the timeline could be expanded to 10 years to accommodate research into various production and distribution aspects, in line with the UK’s ambitions to curb carbon emissions by 2050.

“Just like natural gas, hydrogen can heat homes in exactly the same way, meaning minimal change for customers in terms of how they use gas for heating or cooking,” says Northern Gas Networks chief executive Mark Horsley.

“The houses bring to life the potential of this green gas for keeping UK homes warm, while minimising impact on the environment.”

The UK government has indicated, via a range of recent policy commitments, its intention to reduce its overall reliance on gas heating across the country in favour of a mixed technology approach. This includes making use of hydrogen alongside the expanded electrification of buildings.

“Cleaner” district heat solutions tapping into waste energy and energy-efficient technologies are also expected to play a key role towards realising low and even zero-carbon heat at scale over the next 30 years.

Due for publication this year, the UK’s Hydrogen Strategy is expected to provide more detailed breakdown of how production and distribution of the gas may be used to transform heat and other major industrial processes.

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