Government scraps hydrogen town pilot plan

The government has decided not to progress work on a hydrogen town pilot, which would see several thousand households’ gas supply converted to hydrogen, until after 2026 strategic decisions on the role of hydrogen in decarbonising heat.
The government said the its decision “follows careful consideration of the future of the work in light of the decision in December 2023 not to proceed with the hydrogen village trial in Redcar”. A second village trial in Whitby had previously been cancelled.
Jess Ralston, Head of Energy at the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said, “Industry has long been calling for direction on the future of heating from Government, and today’s announcement is the clearest signal yet – hydrogen heating will only have a minor role, if any at all.

“This paves the way for more investment into electric heat pumps, which boost energy security by lowering the amount of gas we need, which will increasingly come from abroad as the North Sea continues its decline, we need to heat our homes. [2] The US and Europe are already installing heat pumps in their millions in response to the gas crisis that has already cost the UK over £100bn, and it looks like we might be starting to catch up.”
The government went on to say “We believe that low carbon hydrogen may have a role to play in heat decarbonisation, alongside heat pumps and heat networks, but in slower time in some locations. We plan to take a decision in 2026 on whether, and if so how, hydrogen will contribute to heating decarbonisation. We will assess evidence from our wider research programme, the neighbourhood trial in Fife and similar schemes across Europe, to take this decision.”
Juliet Phillips, UK energy programme lead at E3G, said, “Discussions on hydrogen for heating are an unhelpful distraction that muddy the waters on the future of how we heat our homes. Today’s decision makes clear that all attention and investment should be focused on readily available clean heat solutions, like heat pumps and heat networks.

“Green hydrogen is likely to be an expensive and scarce resource, which needs to be reserved for niche applications in industry, power and transport. Widespread use of hydrogen for heating is widely understood to be an extremely expensive and inefficient way to meet net zero targets, which could exacerbate fuel poverty.

“Attention now needs to be turned to how we can ensure a fair and well-managed transition away from fossil gas – considering how to support jobs and decommission parts of the network.”

From the archive
If hydrogen is to work it can’t be second class for domestic users
Towards 2032: switching gas customers to 100% hydrogen. How might it be done?

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