News

Arup helps pioneering hydrogen houses achieve planning permission

Charlotte S Charlotte Fernández UKIMEA Press Office,Leeds
23 February 2021

The UK’s first houses to demonstrate the use of hydrogen-fuelled appliances in a real-world setting are to be built by Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the company has announced. 

Arup worked with NGN on the planning proposals for the two semi-detached properties, which will be located at the company’s Low Thornley site, near Gateshead. The firm’s team of planning experts guided the proposals from pre-application stage through to planning consent.

NGN will build the houses in partnership with the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and fellow gas distribution network company, Cadent. The project secured £250,000 of funding from the BEIS Hy4Heat competition which aims to establish whether it is technically possible, safe and efficient to use hydrogen for heating homes and commercial buildings.

The houses will be built by April 2021 and showcase the use of 100% hydrogen for domestic heating and cooking. The project will demonstrate that homes can be heated by clean energy and that hydrogen can play a vital role in achieving the government’s ambitious target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Unlike natural gas, which is responsible for over 30% of carbon emissions, hydrogen produces no carbon at the point of use. For the first time, the hydrogen house will give members of the public a glimpse into a hydrogen-fuelled future, enabling them to interact with a range of hydrogen-fed appliances including boilers, hobs, cookers, fires and a barbecue.

In addition, the houses will be made available for group visits from schools, colleges and universities with the aim of educating children and young adults about the energy requirements of houses and how these will be met in the future. The houses will make educational visitors aware of potential careers in the emerging green economy and in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

If we are ever going to reach net zero carbon, then we need to think about how we can adapt our current housing stock to use alternatives to fossil fuels. Hydrogen is one solution that could power household appliances in place of gas and this UK first project will enable testing in a real-world scenario. We’re delighted to have been part of the team to realise such an important and innovative project. ” Hannah Smith Planning Lead, Arup

Mark Horsley, Chief Executive Officer of NGN said:

‘‘We’re delighted to be at the forefront of innovation, giving customers a glimpse into a hydrogen-heated home of the future. 

“Customers understand the impact on carbon emissions of running a diesel or petrol car, but the impact of home heating is less well understood. We believe a hydrogen gas network could provide the least invasive and most cost-effective route to zero carbon home heating for the majority of UK homes. 

“Gas networks are reliable and extremely resilient and responsive to demands. With 85% of the UK connected to the gas network it is logical to repurpose this vast asset to carry a clean-burning gas like hydrogen.”   

Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

“From running a bath and cooking our evening meals to turning on the heating, most of us use natural gas every day. We need to find alternatives to fossil fuels and move towards making renewable energy the norm.

“While these new houses in Gateshead will look like any other, they will showcase how low carbon hydrogen can transform the way we power our homes and offer a glimpse of what the future holds, as we build back greener.”