Hydrogen-powered show homes to open in Gateshead

The UK’s first homes with household appliances powered entirely by hydrogen will be built in Low Thornley, Gateshead, providing a demonstration of hydrogen-powered living.

 The pair of show homes will contain 100 per cent hydrogen appliances including boilers, hobs, cookers, and fires. Unlike natural gas, which is responsible for over 30 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions, hydrogen produces no carbon at the point of use, with water its only by-product.

The use of hydrogen as a fuel for homes – and the establishment of a ‘Hydrogen Town’ by 2030 – is part of the government’s 10-point decarbonisation strategy; the government says that up to 8,000 jobs in the UK’s former industrial heartlands could be created by the hydrogen industry by 2030.

The show homes will be open to members of the public from April. Local schools, colleges, and universities will be welcomed to learn about the technology, about careers in STEM, and to compare the appliances with conventional ones. The homes have a three-year lifespan and are not intended to be habitable.

The hydrogen show homes are funded through the government’s Hy4Heat Innovation programme and is run by Northern Gas Networks and Cadent. With gas boilers being phased out of new homes from 2025, the gas industry is keen to transition to providing hydrogen through adaptations to its existing infrastructure.

“From running a hot bath and cooking our evening meals to turning on the heating, most of us use natural gas every day,” said Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan. “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, CEO of Northern Gas Networks, commented: “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, CEO at Cadent, added: “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 difference; they will be powered by hydrogen.”

MPs have criticised the government for lacking a strategy to integrate hydrogen into the UK’s energy mix; while the UK leads regarding innovation, it is falling behind other countries as it has not yet set out its hydrogen strategy. The UK does not currently produce significant amounts of low-carbon hydrogen or have technologies established to create a market for hydrogen. The government is due to publish its Hydrogen Strategy later this year.