The first homes in the UK to be fuelled entirely by hydrogen are being built in the North East of England and will be opened up to members of the public in April.
Two semi-detached homes in Gateshead, funded with the help of a £250,000 grant from the government’s Hy4Heat innovation programme, have been created to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen as a clean replacement to natural gas.
All appliances in the houses, including boilers, hobs, cookers and fires, will be powered by hydrogen, which releases no carbon emissions.
The homes are being run by gas companies Northern Gas Networks and Cadent, which have both also put in £250,000 of funding each.
Members of the public will be able to visit the homes, which are not intended to be habitable but instead will be used to showcase the use of hydrogen in a real-world setting.
The project is part of a larger government initiative to establish a hydrogen neighbourhood and potential hydrogen town over the next decade.
Unlike natural gas, which is responsible for more than 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions, hydrogen produces no carbon at the point of use, with the only by-product being water.
Hydrogen also has the potential to unlock up to 100,000 jobs across Britain by 2050, the government said.
However, there is still much debate about the potential of hydrogen to combat climate change and the government has committed to undertaking more research before making any strategic decisions about its use.
In advance of these decisions, the government has said it will consult on requiring new gas boilers to be readily convertible to hydrogen to prepare for any future conversion of the gas network.
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.”
Mark Horsley, chief executive of Northern Gas Networks, said: “We’re delighted to be working with [the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy] and Cadent on this unique demonstration, which gives energy customers a first glimpse at hydrogen technology in the home.
“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.
“The houses bring to life the potential of this green gas for keeping UK homes warm, while minimising impact on the environment.”
Steve Fraser, chief executive of Cadent, said: “We are proud to be part of this important project, where we will be able to show customers what their future gas appliances will look like.
“A familiar sight to them, with one difference, they will be powered by hydrogen.
“These projects are so important to demonstrate a decarbonised energy solution in homes now.”
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