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Hydrogen may never heat British homes after contentious trial cancelled

todayDecember 14, 2023 3

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Hydrogen may never heat British homes after contentious trial cancelled

The Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has cancelled a contentious trial of hydrogen for home heating in the Yorkshire coastal town of Redcar following growing opposition from residents there.

The trial would have seen all homes in the trial area having their gas central heating removed, to be replaced with either a hydrogen boiler or an electric alternative.

But on Thursday the government announced that the trial would no longer be going ahead, casting doubt on the idea of hydrogen ever being used to heat homes in Britain.

A similar trial planned in Whitby in Cheshire was also cancelled earlier this year after residents objected.

Unlike the methane that we burn in our gas boilers, hydrogen doesn’t emit carbon when burned leading some to tout it as a straight-forward swap to how we heat our homes in a net zero future.

The problem is that hydrogen currently needs a large amount of renewable electricity to be created in an environmentally friendly way – using renewable electricity to split hydrogen from water in a process called electrolysis.

Many scientists point out that it is therefore much more efficient to use that green electricity directly to run alternatives like heat pumps.

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When questioned earlier this month, energy minister Lord Callanan told Sky’s Climate Show with Tom Heap that hydrogen will “not play a major role in home heating”.

In making the announcement, the government says it will still look at evidence from a hydrogen heating trial in Fife, as well as others in Europe, before making a final decision on the matter in 2026.

But with the government backing a ban on boilers – including those that could burn hydrogen – from newly built homes in England from 2025, and generous subsidies already being offered for heat pumps, it’s now looking much more likely that those appliances will be the technology of choice to warm our homes in the decades to come.

Written by: Newsroom

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