Hundreds of homes in Scotland will soon become the first in the world to use 100% green hydrogen to heat their properties and cook their meals as part of a new trial which could help households across the country replace fossil fuel gas.
Some 300 homes in Fife will be fitted with free hydrogen boilers, heaters and cooking appliances to be used for more than four years in the largest test of whether zero carbon hydrogen, made using renewable energy and water, could help meet Britain’s climate goals.
They will begin to receive green gas from the end of 2022, at no charge, and up to 1,000 homes could be included if the first phase of the trial is completed successfully.
The pioneering project has the backing of the energy regulator, Ofgem, which has provided Scottish Gas Networks with up to £18m for the project as part of a funding competition which supports innovation to prepare Britain’s energy grids for a low-carbon future. The Scottish government will support the project with a grant of £6.9m.
Ofgem’s £56m funding pot will also support a £12.7m project from National Grid to carry out “offline” hydrogen trials, using old gas grid pipes, to test the safety of transporting hydrogen gas across the country.
Green hydrogen is a central part of the government’s plan to wean Britain off fossil fuels because it can be used in the same ways as fossil fuel gas but produces no carbon emissions. This is particularly important for central heating, which makes up almost a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions because 85% of homes use a gas boiler.
Antony Green, the head of National Grid’s hydrogen project, said: “If we truly want to reach a net zero decarbonised future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen.
“Sectors such as heat are difficult to decarbonise, and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means projects like this are crucial if we are to deliver low carbon energy, reliably and safely to all consumers.”
Ofgem’s remaining funds in its annual network innovation competition will be awarded to three pioneer projects which aim to use new technology to improve power substations, stabilise voltage control systems and strengthen electricity transmission towers.
Jonathan Brearley, the chief executive of Ofgem, said: “The winning projects were those which showed the most potential to make the game-changing leaps in technology we need to build a greener, fairer energy system at the lowest cost to consumers.”
Kwasi Kwarteng, the energy minister, said the UK “must continue driving forward” the new low-carbon technologies which will be needed to meet the government’s “bold ambition for a green industrial revolution”.