Houses heated by hydrogen boilers

First hydrogen boiler demo under way in homes

Baxi Heating and Worcester Bosch hydrogen-burning boilers are working in ‘Hy Street’, in specially built demonstration houses at DNV GL’s specialist test site at Spadeadam, Northumberland.

The site has been used to complete more than 200 tests, researching and proving the safety of converting homes and gas networks to hydrogen.

For the first demo, both Worcester Bosch and Baxi Heating have installed combis in the houses on HyStreet. The boilers have been developed as part of the government-funded Hy4Heat programme, which is also supporting the development of hydrogen-ready gas cookers, fires and gas meters.

Around 85 per cent of UK homes rely on natural gas for their heating and hot water, which means that repurposing the natural gas grid for use with hydrogen would mean a low disruption option for householders to decarbonise their heating without the need for extensive changes to their existing system.

The project is part of H21, a Network Innovation Competition project sponsored by Ofgem. Northern Gas Networks is leading the project with partners Cadent, Scottish Gas Networks, Wales & West Utilities, National Grid, DNV GL and HSE’s science division. H21 is demonstrating how existing natural gas networks can safely carry 100 per cent hydrogen.

Tim Harwood, Northern Gas Networks’ project director for H21, says: “Seeing the boilers in situ at Spadeadam is an exciting step in the journey to realising our goal of a gas network transporting 100 per cent hydrogen to customers. The hydrogen boiler looks and feels just like the natural gas version we all have today and is just as user-friendly, showing that a transition could cause minimal disruption to customers.”

Dan Allason, head of Research and Innovation, at DNV GL’s Spadeadam Research and Testing says: “Both boiler manufacturers have developed options with their hydrogen-ready prototypes to assist the switch to a lower-carbon alternative. Having these fitted to the Hy Street demonstration project at Spadeadam gives gravitas to the proof of concept and public acceptability of appliances such as these. The boilers are one of the first important steps.”

Karen Boswell, managing director of Baxi Heating, adds: “This is an important step forward on our hydrogen journey and we are delighted to be able to demonstrate this innovative new technology in a real-life setting in the UK.”

Carl Arntzen, CEO of Worcester Bosch, says: “It proves that hydrogen gas has great potential as a zero-carbon alternative to natural gas for heating and hot water in the UK and beyond. These initial tests are incredibly encouraging and will hopefully give key decision-makers confidence to deploy hydrogen gas as a fuel for the future.”

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