Future of energy – can hydrogen heat our homes?

SSE’s core purpose is to provide the energy people need in a reliable and sustainable way. Recently, in a remote part of Scotland, part of that pledge has involved working with industry partners to carry out a rather unique experiment.

There is interest within the energy sector in using hydrogen as a fuel, for example as a heating fuel in gas pipes or as a vehicle fuel. Combustion of hydrogen produces only water as a by-product, so it has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions.

KIWA Gastec led a project, with a number of partners including SSE, to test what would happen if hydrogen was used as the main fuel source for a house. The project tested what would happen if hydrogen were to leak inside a house, for example if someone were to pierce a gas pipe carrying hydrogen during a DIY project. Due to its remote location the project team selected an unoccupied house owned by SSE near the town of Sanquhar in Dumfries and Galloway.

Rufus Ford, Policy and Research, SSE said: “We are delighted to be part of the HyHouse project led by KIWA GASTEC. SSE’s number one priority is safety, and this project will advance safety knowledge to help promote hydrogen use in the energy system of the future.”

“This project has provided a real insight into the risks associated with hydrogen as a fuel gas.

“Although concentrations of hydrogen from a leak are higher than methane; the characteristics of the gases within a standard domestic setting are remarkably similar. The risk is no greater when considering a leak of hydrogen compared to natural gas.

“There’s still a lot of work to do in this area but the HyHouse project was an important stepping stone in the possible movement towards using hydrogen as a heating source in domestic households.”

The project was funded through the Energy Storage Component Research and Feasibility Study Scheme. Funding was received from DECC, Kiwa, SSE and multiple interested parties including, Air Liquide, IGEM, AMEC, BCGA, SGN and National Grid.

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