Redcar Hydrogen Community Project Offer: Free Appliances, Energy Efficiency Improvements and Feedback Payments to ParticipantsRead more
It is a proposal from Northern Gas Networks for some areas of Redcar and Kirkleatham to use hydrogen instead of natural gas for cooking and heating.
We were asked by the Government and energy regulator, Ofgem to propose a village location for around 2,000 properties to use 100% hydrogen instead of natural gas from 2025. The hydrogen village was included in the Government’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, Hydrogen Strategy, Energy White Paper and Heat and Buildings Strategy.
The UK’s gas network has been upgraded over the past 20 years (at a cost to the tax payer) and is a valuable asset, delivering reliable and affordable energy. We know the conversion of the gas network to 100% hydrogen is viable and gives the customer a way to continue to fuel their home which is familiar and requires little disruption. The Health and Safety Executive will review the safety evidence for the hydrogen village and it will not take place until safety assessments have been successfully carried out.
Northern Gas Networks is the local gas distributor, responsible for delivering gas to homes and businesses in Redcar and across the North East of England, northern Cumbria and most of Yorkshire. As part of this project, Northern Gas Networks would supply hydrogen through the gas pipes in the Redcar Hydrogen Community instead of the natural gas which is supplied to customers today.
As part of the Government’s commitment to tackle climate change, it has committed to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This means we need to move away from using natural gas as it creates carbon and is responsible for up to a third of the UK’s carbon emissions. Hydrogen doesn’t create carbon when it is burned so is a more environmentally source of energy and can be compatible with future targets.
We will find out in 2023 whether the project will go ahead and if it does, the switch to using 100% hydrogen would happen from 2025 following work to prepare the network. The project would then last around two years.
At the moment, we are completing work to submit to our regulator, Ofgem and the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in support of Redcar. The project is the ‘hydrogen village’ described in the Prime Minister’s 10 point plan and Heat and Buildings Strategy. This work includes liaising with those businesses and homes in the area who would be supplied with hydrogen.
Northern Gas Networks selected Redcar because there are already commitments to produce hydrogen in the area and it makes sense for the communities located closest to the production to be the first to use it.
The Government has highlighted that the hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million by 2030 and create as many as 12,000 jobs. The hydrogen economy represents a great opportunity for Redcar and the local area and the project gives the community the opportunity to use locally produced, low carbon energy.
We’re working to ensure hydrogen is delivered and can be used at least as safely as natural gas and are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE uses the regulatory framework to improve the management of health and safety risks by gas networks. It is also assessing the evidence regarding the safety of using hydrogen in homes and through the existing gas network.
The HSE will independently review the safety evidence for the hydrogen village and the conversion to hydrogen will not take place until safety assessments have been successfully carried out. The hydrogen village is not testing the safety of hydrogen and will only be given go-ahead when the HSE is satisfied it will be managed within acceptable safety limits, just like natural gas is today.
Every form of energy, including natural gas and electricity, carries its own risk profile and mitigations are put in place to minimise risk. This will be the same for hydrogen.
No, 20% hydrogen has already been used by residents in Winlaton, near Gateshead and 100% hydrogen will be used by a community in Fife, Scotland from 2024. The Redcar project would be the next phase with up to 2,000 properties using hydrogen plus some local businesses, the leisure centre and shops using 100% hydrogen from 2025.
Many other countries are investigating the opportunity to convert their gas networks to 100% hydrogen. Projects fuelling homes in the Netherlands and commercial properties in Germany are already live and many others are planned.
The conversion to hydrogen would happen from 2025 and last around two years. This enables us to gather data across different demand levels as gas usage varies greatly, depending largely on the weather.
The hydrogen used by customers in the Redcar Hydrogen Community will be predominantly locally produced, low carbon hydrogen. This means that not only does the hydrogen not produce any carbon when used, it also creates little or no carbon when it is made. This is known as ‘green’ hydrogen.
To ensure a continuous supply of hydrogen in the case of severe weather, or lower than expected production, we may use other sources of hydrogen from time to time. This will ensure the hydrogen supply is as resilient as today’s gas supply.
The gas industry has been carrying out research for the last five years and hydrogen can be used for home heating. Our Hydrogen Home near Gateshead has been fuelled by 100% hydrogen for the last 18 months and is showcasing hydrogen appliances.
When developing solutions for decarbonising home heating, it’s vital we maintain choice for customers. We know customers enjoy the familiarity and thermal heat qualities of a gas supply and this can continue with hydrogen.
Hydrogen is likely to be more suitable for some property types and electrification for others so it’s important we explore all options.
The country’s energy needs cannot be met by electricity alone. Today we maintain a reliable source of energy by using a diverse range of supply, including electricity and natural gas. In the future we can replace natural gas with hydrogen.
Electricity is difficult to store so there are times when renewable energy sources are not utilised as there is more supply than demand and this itself has cost implications. This constrained energy can be used to create hydrogen.
Natural Gas today plays a vital role in providing energy directly to homes and creating electricity when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t blow, because it can be easily stored. Hydrogen can fulfil this role in the future. A stored supply of gas is essential to meet high energy demand in winter. On cold days up to four or five times as much energy passes through the gas network compared to the electricity network.
Electricity is not the most suitable application for many houses, particularly those which are older and not well insulated.
Methods of hydrogen production are developing and we are exploring various methods of low carbon hydrogen production as part of Redcar Hydrogen Community. As demand for hydrogen increases so will innovation in producing it more cost effectively and efficiently.
Redcar was selected by Northern Gas Networks as there are already plans to produce green hydrogen in the area and the investment in a hydrogen village will enable this new industry to grow and bring opportunities and jobs to the area. The specific areas of the town centre, Warrenby, Coatham and an area of Kirkleatham were chosen as they include a wide spread of house types and different larger gas users including the college and leisure centre, to ensure we represent a diverse range of gas users.
As part of the detailed design phase of the project, everyone in the community was invited to give feedback and complete a research questionnaire. This feedback was included in the plans to Government to inform a decision about whether Redcar is the best location for a hydrogen village and the views of the community will be taken into account. Further to the consultation questionnaire, we have held a consultation meeting, formed a citizen’s panel, held drop-in sessions and opened a Hydrogen Hub on the high street to take on board feedback from the people within the proposed hydrogen community.
The necessity of changing the way we use energy is driven by the Net Zero 2050 target, which is enshrined in law. This means we need to reduce natural gas use as it creates carbon dioxide when burned.
Everyone in the UK will need to change eventually. As the first hydrogen village, Redcar would be supported through the transition with benefits including free appliances and a promise that bills will be not higher than they would have been had customers continued to use natural gas.
In the 1960s and 70s there was a previous conversion for gas networks from towns gas to Natural Gas (predominantly methane). Towns gas contained up to 50% hydrogen.
No, hydrogen boilers have lower emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) than today’s gas boilers. They also eliminate the risk of carbon monoxide poisonings.
The latest UK legislation requires a maximum NOx limit of 56mg/kWh for natural gas boilers (up to a maximum output of 70kW). Today’s best natural gas boilers typically show NOx levels of around 30mg/kWh. Hydrogen boilers developed by leading manufacturers are showing NOx levels of less than half that of their natural gas equivalent.
During the development of hydrogen fires and hobs, manufacturers have recorded the same or improved NOx levels compared to natural gas equivalents. This has been achieved through features including improved design of burners.
The reduction in NOx is an extra environmental benefit above the elimination of carbon.
No, as we will be changing the fuel supplied in our pipes from natural gas to hydrogen, it won’t be possible to continue using natural gas.
If you don’t wish to use hydrogen you can switch to using electricity for heating and cooking during the project and we will make arrangements to support you in installing electrical alternatives in place of your natural gas appliances and ensure you are not financially disadvantaged as a result of this change.
Any homes and businesses in the area will need to have all gas appliances replaced with new appliances if the project goes ahead. This includes gas boilers, cookers and fires as well as your gas meter. If you have gas appliances which you use for commercial purposes, we will speak to you about the alternatives available.
Hydrogen appliances work in the same way as the natural gas appliances you use today and look very similar.
The radiators in your home will work with the hydrogen appliances so would not need to change. You may find this video which shows some appliances at our Hydrogen Home and explains how they work of interest –
The project will fund the hydrogen appliances for your home and carry out any additional work which is necessary as a result of the new appliances being installed. In addition, we will take your natural gas appliances away and service the new appliances for the project duration of around two years.
We are working with manufacturers to understand what choices we can offer. We are also working with the community through our Citizen’s Panel in Redcar to understand the needs of community and take on board their views.
The in-home engineering surveys are helping us capture an audit of the appliances currently installed in homes and this is informing our discussions with manufacturers.
Hydrogen appliances are in the process of developing, so there will not be the same wide-ranging selection of appliances as there is for natural gas.
Customers will be given brand new appliances free of charge and these will be serviced through the live phase of the project by specially trained engineers.
The natural gas we supply today does not smell, it has a distinct odour added to it, to warn everyone of a leak.
The same odour will be added to hydrogen.
At the moment, hydrogen is more expensive to produce than natural gas due to the production methods and much smaller quantities produced. However, we will be ensuring that during the project you will pay no more for the hydrogen than you would have paid had you been using natural gas and you cannot be financially disadvantaged at any stage of the project, including the end.
The long term cost of hydrogen (and natural gas) is not known. Hydrogen production is still in its infancy and as production increases the price of hydrogen is expected to reduce significantly.
We need to take all costs into account and explore hydrogen as one option for decarbonising home heating across a whole systems approach.
Hydrogen would be produced in the UK and for Redcar, local to users. This will create energy security, boost investment and create jobs in the local area.
If you are a tenant living within the proposed Redcar Hydrogen Community, we have liaised with your landlord about the proposed switch to hydrogen gas and how it may affect the appliances in your home. A gas survey should have been carried out on your property, but if not you can request one is completed by a British Gas Engineer- please call 03330 096 132 or complete our online form .
If the project goes live and you pay for your gas and electricity bill, we will ensure that you do not pay any more than you would have done, had you continued to use natural gas.
If you own a business or home in the Redcar Hydrogen Community we will contact you with information about the project and how it may affect the appliances in your property.
You will to need agree to us undertaking a survey at the property and it will be your decision about whether to choose electric or hydrogen, if the project goes ahead.
If the project goes ahead, the home and business owners in the Redcar Hydrogen Community will receive the following benefits;
We’re working on this detail at the moment and are committed to ensuring that no consumers will be financially disadvantaged because they live in the hydrogen community.
The creation of a hydrogen village is a first for the UK and the project will provide vital evidence about the role gas network can play in the transition to Net Zero, helping inform a Government decision about the future of the gas network which is expected in 2026.
The area will revert back to natural gas, and customers would receive new natural gas appliances free of charge.
If a customer opts for a heat pump, instead of hydrogen they will keep that and other electric appliances at the end of the trial. If a customer has another electric solution such as an electric boiler they will have an option to keep it or revert to natural gas.