Could the UK’s first hydrogen-powered homes provide a glimpse into a greener future?
The UK’s first hydrogen-fuelled homes are set to be built this spring. The two semi-detached houses being built in Low Thornley in Gateshead, are set to be fitted with hydrogen-fuelled household appliances including boilers, hobs, cookers and fires that release no carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
The Government hopes that the homes, fuelled entirely by hydrogen, will demonstrate how the most abundant element in the universe could help the UK meet its commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, thereby contributing to the global effort to stop climate change and global warming.
Why is Hydrogen a Cleaner Energy Source than Natural Gas?
A fuel is a chemical or material that is burned to generate energy. The natural gas that is currently used to power the majority of our homes is primarily comprised of methane. Unfortunately, when methane is burned to generate energy, it emits carbon dioxide, which is one of the largest contributors to climate change. On the other hand, when hydrogen is burned, the only waste product is water vapour.
The built environment is responsible for around 40 per cent of the Earth’s total carbon footprint, so replacing natural gas, which produces over 30 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions, with a clean energy source like hydrogen throughout our housing stock could significantly reduce the nation’s carbon emissions.
As well as being green, Hydrogen could play a vital role in strengthening the economy, with the industry creating up to 8,000 jobs across Britain’s industrial heartlands and beyond by 2030, and potentially unlocking up to 100,000 jobs by 2050.
Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:
“From running a hot bath and cooking our evening meals to turning on the heating, most of us use natural gas every day. However, to tackle climate change, we need to find alternatives to fossil fuels and move towards making clean energy the norm.
“While these new houses in Gateshead will look like any other, they 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.”
Funded with the help of the UK government’s Hy4Heat Innovation programme, the hydrogen-powered show homes, which will be completed by April this year, will be open to members of the public, who will be able to view the hydrogen appliances and see how they compare to existing ones. Local schools, colleges and universities will also be welcomed to learn about the new technology, as well as potential careers in the emerging green economy and in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.
The ‘hydrogen houses’, which are not intended to be habitable but rather showcase the use of hydrogen-fuelled applications in a real-world domestic setting, are expected to have a three to 10-year lifespan.
Although very small in scale, this hydrogen house project is aligned with the Prime Minister’s larger scheme that includes establishing a Hydrogen Neighbourhood and the development of plans to build a Hydrogen Town before the end of the decade. Hot stuff!