by: Franz Walker
(Natural News) The U.K.’s first homes where appliances will be fueled exclusively by hydrogen instead of fossil fuel are due to be opened by April. Authorities are hoping that the building will provide the public with “a glimpse into the potential home of the future.”
The two semi-detached houses, which are being built in the town of Gateshead in north-east England, will use 100 percent hydrogen for heating and cooking in appliances, including boilers, stoves and ovens. They’re part of the U.K. government’s vision of creating entire “hydrogen neighborhoods” and even a “hydrogen town” by the end of the decade as part of its plan to become a net-zero carbon nation by the year 2050.
U.K. energy minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan stated that the two 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.”
Hydrogen is emissions-free, but expensive
The use of fossil fuel gas for heating and cooking currently accounts for about 30 percent of the U.K.’s emissions. Burning hydrogen, on the other hand, is emissions-free. As such, it could play a key role in helping the U.K. meet its climate targets by either blending in with existing gas supplies or replacing gas entirely.
The International Energy Agency described hydrogen as a “versatile energy carrier.” It has a diverse range of applications that allow it to be deployed across various sectors such as industry and transport. Examples of hydrogen’s use include cars, buses, trains and even airplanes using hydrogen fuel cells.
But producing hydrogen without contributing to climate emissions can be costly as it relies on renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen to make “green hydrogen.” The other option would be to use carbon capture technology to prevent the emissions released by splitting fossil fuel gas into “blue hydrogen.”
In addition, some in the energy industry have questioned the safety of hydrogen. The same properties that make it a highly efficient fuel also make it highly flammable. Critics argue that using electric appliances and heat pumps would be a much safer alternative.
UK domestic hydrogen projects in the works
The Gateshead development is part of a wider effort by the U.K. to decarbonize the country. Late last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson released the details of a 10-point plan for a so-called “green industrial revolution.”
One of the goals outlined in the plan is the development of a town “heated entirely by hydrogen” by the end of the decade. In addition, the government will also publish a “Hydrogen Strategy” later this year that will outline plans to develop a hydrogen economy in the country. (Related: Enormous supply of clean hydrogen fuel can now be tapped for the hydrogen economy.)
The houses aren’t the only project in the U.K focused on using hydrogen in a domestic setting.
In November of 2020, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) announced that it would provide as much as £18 million ($25.44 million) to fund H100 Fife, a Scotland-based plan to use green hydrogen to heat homes.
A further £6.9 million ($9.75 million) for the scheme is set to come from the Scottish government.
In a statement, energy firm SGN, which provides maintains the gas network in Scotland and the south of England, called the initiative a “100 percent hydrogen demonstration network.” It said that the project would bring “carbon-free heating and cooking” to an estimated 300 homes “from the end of 2022.”
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