Plans are being drawn up to bring hydrogen for heating and cooking to some areas of Redcar after the Government and energy regulator Ofgem gave permission for the UK’s first hydrogen village.

The proposal from Northern Gas Networks involves switching the gas supply from natural gas to clean burning hydrogen for around 2,000 homes and businesses in parts of Redcar including the town centre, Warrenby, Coatham and an area of Kirkleatham from 2025, with a decision about whether the project will progress made in 2023.

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Heating homes and powering industry with gas is currently responsible for up to a quarter of the country’s carbon emissions, however unlike the natural gas used today, hydrogen doesn’t produce any carbon when burned.

The plans involve producing hydrogen in Teesside, meaning Redcar would be self-sufficient, generating its own hydrogen locally, from renewable sources.

To achieve the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the government and industry are exploring the option of repurposing the UK’s gas network to transport 100% hydrogen. Today around 700 homes near Gateshead are already being heated by a blend of hydrogen and natural gas and some homes in Fife, Scotland will become the first to use 100% hydrogen.

NGN will now develop its proposal in more detail and will begin liaising with the local community and stakeholders in the area. As part of the consultation, everyone who is within the project area has been sent information including a letter and leaflet explaining more about the project.  NGN has also set up a dedicated website for customers and is holding customer drop-in sessions at the Civic Centre, before opening a shop in the town centre this Summer, which will become its permanent customer base.

If ultimately approved, the project is expected to begin from 2025 and run for around two years.

Commenting on the plans, Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks said: “Teesside has a proud industrial heritage and is now embracing the green industrial revolution with hydrogen production bringing skilled jobs to the area. Heating homes and businesses with this homegrown hydrogen, which will be stored locally, is a logical step as part of our work to bring sustainable, affordable and secure energy supplies to customers and communities throughout the North of England.  We are looking forward to engaging with the people and businesses of Redcar to develop our proposals further.”

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Redcar was selected by NGN as it lies within the East Coast industrial cluster as it is in close proximity of established energy infrastructure including hydrogen production and storage facilities. The varied housing in the local area is also representative of homes throughout rest of the UK.

Cllr Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: “Developing a viable alternative to fossil fuels is imperative to the way we will live in the future and I’m really pleased to be working with Northern Gas Networks to put Redcar at the heart of this. The proposed community plans are groundbreaking and I hope all people and businesses in the areas which will be identified will be happy to take part if it is approved by Government.

“The work which has already taken place on Teesside around developing the fuels of the future gives Teesside a great chance to be successful in pioneering this work. As a council, we are committed to becoming carbon-neutral and schemes like this have the potential to make a significant difference in achieving this. I look forward to the plan developing and I hope the Government can see the potential for success in our region and select the Redcar scheme.”

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar: “I have spoken in the House of Commons to press the case as to why Redcar is the ideal candidate for this demonstration, and I’m absolutely delighted that Northern Gas Networks has now formally proposed Redcar to be its pioneer for the future of hydrogen-fuelled homes.

“When we consider that 85% of homes are connected to the gas network, it becomes clear that we won’t make net zero without switching our gas network to 100% hydrogen.

“Teesside is quickly becoming the epicentre for hydrogen technology in the UK, especially following recent announcements on blue and green hydrogen production in the region.

“We were at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and through projects like this, we will lead our Green Industrial Revolution too.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Redcar is already home to a world-leading, first of its kind research programme being run by Northern Gas Networks testing 100% hydrogen in an isolated section of the domestic gas network, and this announcement shows its commitment to go further right here, proving our region is a powerhouse in developing the net zero technologies of the future that will deliver the cleaner, safer and healthier jobs for local workers.

“This is yet another fantastic example of how Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are driving forward low carbon innovation and comes hot on the heels of other schemes across the region, including major investments in hydrogen production. These, along with our offshore wind and Net Zero Teesside’s carbon capture, utilisation and storage power plant on Teesworks are putting us front-and-centre of the UK’s ambitions in the sector.

“I’ll continue to do all I can to shout about our clean energy potential to Government and help get this over the line, cementing our position as a powerhouse and, vitally, creating good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people.”


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