The U.K. has moved one step closer towards its net-zero carbon target by unveiling a plan to test 100% green hydrogen for cooking and heating in 300 Scottish homes, making Scotland the first country to do so. Ofgem, the U.K.’s energy regulator, announced this plan on Monday.
According to Ofgem, Scottish gas company SGN will be responsible for fitting houses with hydrogen heating systems. SGN plans to start fitting houses in Fife with free hydrogen systems that families will use over the next three to four years.
The ambitious project is a trial begun by the U.K. government to monitor the viability of using carbon-free hydrogen generated through electrolysis. Ofgem funded the project with $24 million as part of an innovation competition aimed at finding new green energy sources. The group also chipped in $17 million for tests on using the available natural gas pipes to safely transport hydrogen gas over long distances.
According to Antony Green, the head of the National Grid, the U.K. must embrace green alternatives such as this carbon-free hydrogen. “If we truly want to reach a net zero de-carbonized future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen,” Green said. “Sectors such as heat are difficult to de-carbonize, 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.”
While hydrogen is a safe gas, it comes with its fair share of challenges. For instance, electrolysis is only 80% effective. This means that the hydrogen generation process wastes about 20% of the energy used. Even so, the U.K. considers hydrogen a viable energy alternative for the 85% of the U.K. homes still using a gas furnace for heating.
As the U.K. explores hydrogen-based energy, automobile and appliance industries are also testing this gas. For example, Toyota recently released news of the second generation Mirai, a car that runs on hydrogen.
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