Given the number of trials announced almost every month, it is true to say that the hydrogen-ready boiler concept is certainly gathering pace. A trial indicates that something is worth exploring, in this case the possibility of exchanging natural gas for hydrogen gas in our homes.
There are several trials underway or about to take place across the UK as the country continues to cement its position as a leader in this technology and these can be split into two types: blended and 100% hydrogen. We’re proud to be involved in the majority of them.
Blended trials are a mix of hydrogen and natural gas and these are well underway. One such is at Keele University where around 150 boilers have been running up to a 20% hydrogen blend for around 18 months. This is nearing completion and there have been no issues with heating systems or cooking appliances.
Keele is more of a managed trial with engineers and professionals located on-site. However, as a sign hydrogen is becoming more established, the next trial consists of 670 occupied homes in Winlaton, Gateshead. These homes will be converted to a 20%/80% hydrogen/natural gas blend initially for 10 months. This is a significant step as it shows how there is more confidence in the technology as it is considered safe to test in the domestic market.
Another trial is the Hy4Heat programme which includes 100% hydrogen boilers running in specially-built demonstration houses at a test site in Northumberland. The site has already completed over 200 tests, researching and proving the safety of converting homes and gas networks to hydrogen.
Hy4Heat also recently saw our hydrogen boiler commissioned at the semi-detached house built especially for the hydrogen economy in Gateshead. The project has heating, hot water, cooking and gas fires situated in purpose-built properties. The Hydrogen House project opened in April and is a joint project between Northern Gas Networks, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Cadent. Yet another exciting proof-point of the UK’s commitment to the future gas fuel.
SGN is delivering a trial which will see 300 homes in Fife connected to a 100% hydrogen gas network. A hydrogen demonstration facility with show homes will be launching in 2022 to support the customer engagement. Customers in the area will have the choice to opt-in for a hydrogen gas supply or remain with their existing natural gas supply, with the aim of having all 300 connected in 2023.Finally, there is HyNet in the North West of England, which although not specific to boilers, does include heating homes as one of its key focuses. This is alongside hydrogen production, transportation and manufacturing.
All trials are working towards one goal: gathering and building evidence, as well as confirming what we know already, to help increase confidence in hydrogen as a technology. All will help form government policy in this area.
We know the boilers work on 100% hydrogen from our own research and we’re hopeful that the numerous trials will help provide more evidence to confirm this.
Ultimately, the industry is working towards a mandate for all boilers to be hydrogen-ready from the mid 2020s – something that will put us well on our way for our zero carbon targets. These many trials across the UK will help us achieve our objectives.
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