With the energy used to heat our homes and workspaces accounting for 17% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, it is hardly surprising that research scientists are exploring how best we should transition households away from using fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy. In the context of helping the Government achieve its ambitious net zero emission targets, the stakes could not be higher.
Following a series of pioneering development projects led by the UK gas sector, one experiment involves exploring the feasibility of using Hydrogen to heat our homes. The test site for an imminent and all-important public demonstration is an ordinary semi-detached house in Gateshead that has been designed to run entirely on Hydrogen. If the demonstration is successful, it will put Hydrogen at the centre of the UK energy debate rather than on the fringes. Other sectors, such as heavy industry and heavy goods transport, are certain to be monitoring developments very closely.
Ironically, the consortium of energy firms, appliance manufacturers and researchers involved in the project had originally set out to eliminate Hydrogen from the list of possible alternatives. Somewhat surprisingly, the arguments in favour of its use have multiplied as the project has unfolded.
Inevitably, there still some technical difficulties to overcome – such as how to mandate that all domestic boilers should be made ‘hydrogen ready’ without any significant increase in the size of appliances or any compromises on safety. Also, how to convert the UK’s existing gas pipelines and vast distribution networks without incurring unnecessary financial outlay.
The industry is looking to repeat the success of the conversion achieved in the 1960s and 1970s when consumers shifted from town gas to natural gas. As then, the important thing is for all the stakeholders to collaborate and work towards a common goal. After all, we know the targets, what’s at stake and the prize at the end of the rainbow – a cleaner, greener world.
From our own perspective, we like to think that our recent partnership with Jericho Energy Ventures to provide engineering and manufacturing expertise to its subsidiary Hydrogen Technologies Inc (HTI) to produce its ‘cleanH2steam DCC boiler’ demonstrates both our commitment and credentials. HTI’s strategy involves decarbonising the nearly $30bn commercial and industrial heating sectors so there is a lot to do. What it tells us is that there is going to be a growing demand for Hydrogen-based solutions – and we are pleased to be right in the thick of the worldwide energy revolution.