Image: Northern Gas Networks

The Hy4Heat innovation programme is to deliver the UK’s first homes with hydrogen powered household appliances.

The homes, which are due to open in April 2021, will be built by northern England gas distributor Northern Gas Networks at its east coast energy solutions test-bed facility at Low Thornley near Gateshead.

The two semi-detached properties looking similar externally to other local homes will be equipped with a rotating range of new appliances from different manufacturers, including boilers, hobs, cookers, fires and barbecues.

The aim of the initiative, which is being supported with £250,000 ($350,000) of funding from the government’s Hydrogen for heat’ (Hy4Heat) programme, is to showcase the use of 100% hydrogen for domestic heating and cooking.

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The homes are not intended to be habitable but will be open to the public and also made available for educational purposes to group visits from schools, colleges and universities.

‘‘We’re delighted to be at the forefront of innovation, giving customers a glimpse into a hydrogen-heated home of the future. Customers understand the impact on carbon emissions of running a diesel or petrol car, but the impact of home heating is less well understood,” says Mark Horsley, chief executive officer of Northern Gas Networks.

“We believe a hydrogen gas network could provide the least invasive and most cost-effective route to zero carbon home heating for the majority of UK homes. With 85% of the UK connected to the gas network it is logical to re-purpose this vast asset to carry a clean-burning gas like hydrogen.”

The initiative forms part of the government’s efforts to drive towards a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Hydrogen is now seen to be able to play a vital role and plans are in hand to develop the first hydrogen powered town by 2030.

The other partner in the project is the gas distribution network operator Cadent, which also is partnering with Northern Gas Networks on other projects including hydrogen blending with natural gas.

The hydrogen houses are intended to have a 3-year lifespan, but potentially longer, up to 10 years.