The prospect of UK homes being heated by hydrogen rather than natural gas in future has moved a step closer with the world’s biggest hydrogen developers joining forces in what they call the ‘Green Hydrogen Catapult’.
Their ambition is to expand production 50-fold in less than six years to radically drive down the cost.
The companies involved include ACWA Power, CWP Renewables, Envision, Iberdrola, Ørsted, Snam, and Yara.
Green hydrogen produced by renewable energy using electrolysis is currently much more expensive than obtaining hydrogen from natural gas.
The firms hope that their economies of scale can drive the cost down to $2 a kg, which recent analysis by the Hydrogen Council suggests could make it cost-competitive.
The move follows the announcement that the UK’s National Grid is to receive funding from the energy market regulator to launch a hydrogen research facility.
The facility will test how gas transmission assets can be used to transport hydrogen to heat homes and energy to industry.
Ofgem has said it will award £9.07 million of funding for the homes heating project, which will cost £12.7 million in total.
The remaining funding will come from project partners.
National Grid aims to start construction this year and begin trials next year on the testing facility, which will be built from a range of decommissioned assets, to create a representative transmission network.
Blends of hydrogen up to 100% will then be tested at transmission pressures to assess how the assets perform, National Grid said.
The hydrogen research facility will be separate from the main national transmission system, allowing for testing to be undertaken in a controlled environment, with no risk to the safety and reliability of the gas transmission network.
“If we truly want to reach a net zero decarbonised future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen,” said Antony Green, project director for hydrogen at National Grid.
“Sectors such as heat are difficult to decarbonise, and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means projects like this are crucial if we are to deliver low carbon energy, reliably and safely to all consumers,” he added.