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UK Homes Could Be Heated By Hydrogen!

April 14, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




Little Emily reports in the Telegraph:


UK households could start heating their homes and cooking using ‘green’ hydrogen gas within a decade, under a radical new plan to tackle climate change by phasing out the use of natural gas.

The entire gas network for the city of Leeds, including all domestic gas boilers and cookers, would be converted to run on clean-burning hydrogen under the proposed world-first project.

The plans to make Leeds a “hydrogen city” would cost an estimated £2 billion, according to Northern Gas Networks (NGN), which is responsible for distributing gas across northern England and has received funding from energy regulator Ofgem to develop the idea.

It hopes Leeds could be converted by 2025-30 and that the model could then be replicated in other major cities across the UK.

More than 80 per cent of UK homes currently use natural gas for their heating, with many using it for cooking too.

This presents a major obstacle to Britain hitting its climate change targets, because natural gas consists primarily of methane, which when burnt produces carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas that causes global warming.

Experts say alternative sources of home heating will need to be found if Britain is to comply with its Climate Change Act, which requires an 80 per cent cut in emissions on 1990 levels by 2050.

NGN says one solution may be to use pure hydrogen, which is more environmentally-friendly than natural gas because it produces only water and heat when burnt.

The company is working to redesign the Leeds gas network to build a series of “steam methane reformer” plants around the city, taking methane from the national gas grid and converting it into hydrogen by removing the carbon.

The carbon would then be disposed of using carbon capture and storage technology, for example by pumping it into a disused North Sea gas field, while the hydrogen would be transported to households and businesses in Leeds.

“Households in Leeds could potentially cook and heat their homes using pure hydrogen within 10 – 15 years,” a spokesman for NGN said.

Although this would require the conversion of all household gas appliances, the company believes this is not an insurmountable task, likening it to the nationwide programme to convert boilers and cookers from towns gas to natural gas in the sixties and seventies, following the discovery of North Sea reserves.


A boiler Boilers would need to be converted or replaced. Credit: Christopher Jones


It says hydrogen “poses no significant increase in risk to methane”,  and that challenges such as the fact hydrogen burns with a barely visible light blue flame “could be managed through appliance design”.

Residents would not have to foot the upfront cost of the appliance conversions, with the bill for the entire scheme instead being paid for gradually on energy bills, it suggests.

A key advantage would be that gas distribution pipe network infrastructure would need minimal modification, because old metal pipes are already being replaced with plastic ones which NGN says are suitable for carrying hydrogen.

Energy industry sources say sticking with a form of gas heating would also be less disruptive for consumers than other alternatives to natural gas heating, such as installing renewable biomass boilers or ‘heat pumps’, which can be bulky and impractical in cities.

While the idea has gained little publicity to date, the Committee on Climate Change – the Government’s official advisers – also suggest it could be a credible proposition.

A spokesman for the CCC said research it had commissioned concluding that “hydrogen has the potential to make a significant contribution to future decarbonisation”, although it was thought to be an expensive option.

Mark Horsley, chief executive of Northern Gas Networks said: “Hydrogen cities are a potential game changer for decarbonisation of energy and could be one energy solution as we start to realise the challenges of affordability, decarbonisation and security of supply, significantly improving the UK’s chances of meeting the challenge of the Climate Change Act.”

A spokesman for the Energy Networks Association said use of “green gas”, such as hydrogen, had “exciting potential” and that the Leeds project would be a “blue print which would be transferable to other UK cities where the decarbonisation of heat and transportation is more challenging but also provides the biggest return on carbon reduction”.

The project has so far received almost £300,000 funding from Ofgem for work on initial desktop studies, which are due to be published later this year. It is now seeking £55 million funding to develop a “roadmap to hydrogen” with further studies before any decision is taken on converting Leeds.



Lucky Leeds! There are 320,000 households in Leeds, so £2 billion works out at £6250 each. Rolled out nationally, the cost would be £162 billion.

It obviously has not occurred to dear little Emily to ask who is going to pay for all of this. All we are told is that the lucky householders will have to pay for the cost of converting their boilers and ovens “gradually on their energy bills”.

But the cost does not stop there. Now I am not a scientist, and you can shoot me down in flames here, but I somehow don’t believe that you can take natural gas and turn it into hydrogen AT NO COST. And I wonder who will end up paying for that?

I also strongly suspect such a process will be pretty energy intensive, which begs the question where will that energy come from? 


The fact that apparently officialdom is actually looking at this barking proposal is an indication of the lack of alternatives to tackle emissions from domestic use. According to DECC, emissions from domestic users, (excl electricity), amounted to 12% in 2014. A more typical figure is around 14%, as 2014 was an unusually mild year.

Indeed there is little evidence of any real long tern decline. Given projected population growth, energy use in households is more likely to increase in the long term.







Talk about Alice in Wonderland! 




According to the report, the fact that hydrogen burns with a barely visible light blue flame “could be managed through appliance design”.

But what happens in the meantime until you buy your new oven? How many people will be burnt or have their houses set on fire?

  1. It doesn't add up... permalink
    April 14, 2016 10:20 am

    This will cost a every street. Not to mention the problems with HIC (Hydrogen Induced Cracking of pipes).

  2. johnmarshall permalink
    April 14, 2016 10:21 am

    Hydrogen is not the safest of gasses to use domestically given the large H&S rules for its handling in industry. How many households would bother to follow these rules? Also burning hydrogen produces condensation. We spend good money trying to get rid of condensation only to introduce high volume producer that would increase the need for home redecorration at a much higher cost.

    Stick with the real science that CO2 does not cause climate change.

  3. April 14, 2016 10:52 am

    At least you will not have to pay the high cost of Helium for your balloons at Celebration time. Just inflate from a gas tap and bingo, your balloon floats. Obviously there will be no danger from inflating balloons with flammable gas. Probably you could use it on a really big balloon, like a weather balloon and have no trouble at all.


    • Roger Cole permalink
      April 14, 2016 1:19 pm

      Just like when I was a kid. Coal gas was about 50% hydrogen, which was enough to float a balloon.

      • Eric permalink
        April 15, 2016 2:17 pm

        Coal gas is a great perspective on this. Of course, coal is a dirty word, so now its natural gas, and that other stoichometric portion of C is being disposed of somewere expensively out of sight…

  4. April 14, 2016 11:02 am

    When consumers heat with natural gas (methane) they burn four atoms of hydrogen for one of carbon.

    What would be gained by converting to hydrogen?

    This scheme is just about the most foolish proposal so far for making a few people rich at public expense.

    • Broadlands permalink
      April 14, 2016 5:42 pm

      Frederick.. Just a “nit pick”. Methane is CH4… that’s two atoms of hydrogen… H2.

      • April 14, 2016 10:14 pm

        Broadlands: a counter nitpick – H2 is a hydrogen molecule. An atom of hydrogen is just H. So there are four atoms of hydrogen in each molecule of Methane.

      • April 14, 2016 11:25 pm

        For the record, nope. Four H atoms ( CH4 is one carbon atom and 4 hydrogens). It uses two hydrogen molecules, since they like to travel in pairs. But stoichiometry deals in atoms, not molecules. Basic chemistry.

  5. April 14, 2016 11:07 am

    “Little Emily reports in the Telegraph”: personally, I recommend ‘Ickle Emily reports in the Telegraph’.

  6. April 14, 2016 11:10 am

    The waste of money beggars belief. When will they learn? What CCS are they proposing? The one abandoned by the Government?

  7. Joe Public permalink
    April 14, 2016 11:22 am

    Presumably (or the report’s authors are unaware or chose to ignore) Leeds alone will have to make its own arrangements for storing sufficient H2 to meet *prolonged* ‘peak days’.

    Leeds would need to be disconnected *entirely* from the Nat Gas grid, because the two gasses are not interchangeable, and neither should be contaminated by the other.

    Not only is Hydrogen’s flame nigh-on invisible, its upper & lower explosive limits are wider too.

    An interesting comparison data sheet:

    Click to access h2_safety_fsheet.pdf

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      April 15, 2016 7:01 am

      Will they also replace all aluminium saucepans etc.?

  8. auralay permalink
    April 14, 2016 11:33 am

    What could possibly go wrong?

    In short expensive, energy inefficient, impractical and probably dangerous.
    Ticks every greenie box

  9. April 14, 2016 11:38 am

    How do you spell Hindenburg? (a.k.a. British Lives Don’t Matter)

    • April 14, 2016 11:55 am

      Point of order the Hindenburg fire was a lot about the aluminium fame as a Al is a fuel ..Supposedly the hydrogen had already quickly risen away.

      • Joe Public permalink
        April 14, 2016 2:13 pm

        From my above link:

        “Don’t paint your airship with rocket fuel!”

        “The fire that destroyed the Hindenburg in 1937 gave hydrogen a misleading reputation. Hydrogen was used to keep the airship buoyant and was initially blamed for the disaster. An investigation by Addison Bain in the 1990s provided evidence that the airship’s fabric envelope was coated with reactive chemicals, similar to solid rocket fuel, and was easily ignitable by an electrical discharge. The Zeppelin Company, builder of the Hindenburg, has since confirmed that the flammable, doped outer cover is to be blamed for the fire. For more information, view a short video at:”

      • John Ellyssen permalink
        April 14, 2016 2:58 pm

        Do not forget that the size of the hydrogen atom is so small that very little could contain it over time thus creating a constant leak and fire risk problem.

    • BLACK PEARL permalink
      April 14, 2016 12:15 pm

      That’s good one
      Should be the new anti – Climate Crusader slogan Even anti EU

      • April 14, 2016 1:29 pm

        #GreenLivesMatter and sod everyone else cos they are capitalists in the pay of bigoil
        is the way it seems they behave.

    • Manfred permalink
      April 15, 2016 11:51 pm


  10. April 14, 2016 11:59 am

    Coincidence that BBC had an adverton the radio Farming prog this morning ..backed up by another video report advert.
    It was newsworthy cos the farmer has just won a Green farming award
    ..The Radio neglected to mention that award was sponsored by the installer of that hydrogen system. (more details on your About page).

  11. April 14, 2016 12:04 pm

    Bet there are SUBSIDIES motivating the Leeds Idea and that farm project.

    Why the Leeds idea is mad.
    The Indonesian and many other places are busy installing new public natural gas pipe systems . So surely it’s more efficient for the subsidy money to go to those foreign new build projects rather than completely rebuilding UK systems which will work perfectly well for years ?
    – Anyone would think that GreenDream is more about subsidy farming and Dirty PR tricks rather than actually reducing CO2.

    • April 14, 2016 12:09 pm

      Oh yes this is the end of the Telegraph piece

      The project has so far received almost £300,000 funding from Ofgem for work on initial desktop studies, which are due to be published later this year. It is now seeking £55 million funding to develop a “roadmap to hydrogen”

  12. Derek Buxton permalink
    April 14, 2016 12:34 pm

    stewgreen has it correct, just another money making scam from the people haters. Not only will the conversion of methane cost money but where is the CCS coming from and at what additional cost……look out for £3000+ gas bills or a large explosion taking out Leeds.

    • April 14, 2016 1:25 pm

      Exactly! Leeds Dis – United. Totally nuts.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        April 15, 2016 11:16 am

        ‘Ell and road?

  13. Sparks permalink
    April 14, 2016 1:23 pm

    We use Electrolysis to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen which is expensive and it requires large amounts of electricity. With the right equipment and setup every home in the UK in theory could produce their own hydrogen for cooking and heating without having it mass produced and piped into their homes, it is an engineering possibility.

    The thing is, if you have an efficient electrolyses device and your home is converted to use hydrogen gas, why on earth would you pay an energy company for hydrogen?

    You would simply pay for your electricity and water as usual wouldn’t you? this way may actually be cost effective for people to convert their own homes, the savings on heating bills alone would be an incentive (in theory).

    Or another engineering possibility (or expensive and logistical nightmare!) is to mass produce hydrogen gas using the national electric grid or even new purposely built power plants, convert hundreds of thousands of homes to use the hydrogen and pipe it, this would produce hugely expensive heating and cooking bills for the consumer from the get go, and with no financial incentive for consumers whatsoever, who would be mad enough to invest in such a system?, and it does nothing to reduce industrial, commercial or even domestic electricity use,

    There are so many issues involved in such a system it’s laughable. But it’s not that the engineering capability isn’t there. We can build home energy systems that can very efficient and produce extremely low cost energy for consumers, that isn’t and has never been the point.

    The reason behind these nut-job green fantasies is profiteering! plain and simple, driving more people into poverty will be the result of expensive energy markets with so many trying to impose their solutions to a non threat for a gold coin.

  14. Derek permalink
    April 14, 2016 1:57 pm

    Gullible and naïve greens are being ripped off by greedy unscrupulous businessmen aided by foolish and ignorant politicians. In years to come this will make a wonderful comedy. Today it is just a tragedy.

  15. April 14, 2016 2:03 pm

    I think we should bring back coal gas! Afterall the the raw material has never been so cheap (inflation adjusted)

  16. April 14, 2016 2:17 pm

    Make your own electricity from hydrogen with a ‘Hydrogen Electrolyzer’.

    You know it makes [no] sense.

  17. John Ellyssen permalink
    April 14, 2016 2:54 pm

    Holy Cow, after a decade, we still have not perfected hydrogen cells for businesses or automobiles. And they are going to use existing infrastructure without adaptation. This is multiple disasters waiting to happen. Now I personally like the concept of hydrogen power cells, but not burning hydrogen in open flame in the house.

  18. April 14, 2016 3:29 pm

    Makes no energy sense from any perspective. Electrolysis of water is inefficient. If you have electricity, better to use it directly for heating and cooking. Water shift reformation of natural gas is inefficient. If you have it, better to use it directly for heating and cooking. As for hydrogen fuel cell cars, the MY 2015 Toyota Prius hybrid is net more energy efficient than hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, while presenting none of the hydrogen fueling and storage problems. Essay Hydrogen Hype makes these basic simple points in more detail.

  19. Ian Magness permalink
    April 14, 2016 5:33 pm

    I’m probably being extremely thick, but aside from the whole thing in general being palpable nonsense, the bit I don’t get is: “build a series of “steam methane reformer” plants around the city, taking methane from the national gas grid and converting it into hydrogen by removing the carbon.
    The carbon would then be disposed of using carbon capture and storage technology, for example by pumping it into a disused North Sea gas field”
    I thought a) “carbon capture” was actually about carbon dioxide gas, not carbon per se and b) isn’t carbon a solid at normal temperatures and pressures? So, why and how would you “pump” it hundreds of miles to old offshore oil fields? Actually, one of the very few (and probably insignificant) benefits of the process might be obtaining pure carbon that could be used in other industrial processes.
    I’m probably just being stupid but the whole thing – and in deed the article – seems bizarre to me.

  20. April 14, 2016 5:43 pm

    Ofgem should stick to taking care of consumers, that is what regulators are supposed to do, but the Green Slime thought of that problem in advance, and made it an obligation that Ofgem take care of the (supposed) desire of consumers to save the planet.

    Another “green” law that needs to be repealed.

    • April 15, 2016 2:26 am

      £300K of taxpayer money that OFGEM has already doled out would pay for a lot of nurses
      And next £55m

  21. mwhite permalink
    April 14, 2016 5:46 pm

    SO!!!!, burning hydrogen, turning it into water vapour???

  22. saveenergy permalink
    April 14, 2016 6:41 pm

    “dear little Emily ” ???

    At £162 billion; You must mean expensive little Emily !!

    Hydrogen is a dangerous fuel, and has the widest explosive/ignition mix range with air of all gases except acetylene, the limits of flammability are important even if there happens to be no explosive mixture: hydrogen is a small and light molecule that diffuses fast.

    If the air you breathe happens to have a hydrogen concentration within the flammability limits, any ignition will burn deep into your throat on its way to the lungs.

  23. mikewaite permalink
    April 14, 2016 8:48 pm

    If you live in Leeds I wish you the best of luck in trying to find a company to insure your house after you have been converted to this criminally insane scheme.
    I was witness to a H2 explosion that occurred with a modern furnace run by graduate scientist who was distracted for a moment.

  24. Graeme No.3 permalink
    April 14, 2016 11:23 pm

    “Households in Leeds could … cook and heat their homes using pure hydrogen” but I thought the idea is to warm food and houses, not burn them.

    And how the hell could anyone justify taking cheaper methane and reforming it to hydrogen, while re-equiping a city with new appliance etc? Remanded pending psychiatric report.

    • April 14, 2016 11:30 pm

      Not to mention CCS is ruinously expensive (CC part of CCS), if feasible at all (S part of CCS). The greater the idiocy, the more rapidly the whole CAGW house of cards collapses.

  25. Charlie Moncur permalink
    April 15, 2016 1:50 am

    Never read so much rubbish in my life. The people of Leeds need to stop this before they become duped and robbed ?

  26. Charlie Moncur permalink
    April 15, 2016 1:59 am

    Have just reread the post. The lunatics are running the asylum!!!! Need to repeal the 2008 Climate Change Act pronto. Follow the money – nothing to do with need – methane is already cleanest fossil fuel. How do the rational amongst up control the idiots who dream up such scams!!!

  27. April 15, 2016 3:39 am

    Out of all these replies/comments, only mwhite noted that burning hydrogen produces water vapor! If willing to check, all will find that water vapor is at least an order-of-magnitude more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 ! In fact, it is probably the only greenhouse gas of any importance.

  28. Andrew Duffin permalink
    April 15, 2016 6:48 am

    “Hydrogen involves very little increase in risk over Methane”

    Has she asked any chemists?

    Thought not.

  29. April 15, 2016 9:39 am

    (That farmer has actually got a hydrogen electrolysis system on his farm.
    So since I am on a desktop PC I’ll reproduce my notes and those interested can follow the BBC links.)

    Another BBC video advert for a subsidy farming Green Corp here on this page
    In cahoots with Newsquest regional newspapers who are big on pushing green news and censoring comments
    This morning BBC Farming Today featured a report on one of the winners of the Northern Farmer Magazine awards. (Coincidentally owned by Newsquest)
    Which category did BBC pick out off the 10 ?
    ………………….That’s right ‘Green Farmer of the year” …He lives in Cheshire
    He talked about his Hydrogen project : They use electrolysis to split water into hydrogen which they then burn to heat the house ..surely there is a lot of waste in those steps. Why not just use solar hot water ?
    He claims he does it to save money..subsidies were not mentioned , but surely that the only way he can be quids in is if he has subsidies.
    That Magazine has no website, but Newsquest newspapers mention the news
    “Green Farmer of the Year – Sponsored by Clean Power”
    That might be is the same Clean Power Solutions who just supplied that hydrogen system which the BBC TV were on hand to film.

  30. April 15, 2016 8:20 pm

    According to DECC, emissions from domestic users, (excl electricity), amounted to 12% in 2014.

    As global warming is caused by the global rise in greenhouse gases, it is worth putting this idea in a global context. The UK currently emits at most 1.4% of global emissions, so replacing natural gas with hydrogen could reduce global emissions by up to 0.17% – or more accurately offset almost a month of increases in global emissions.

    • April 16, 2016 2:58 am

      Kevin can you give us the biggest for domestic electricity

      • April 16, 2016 2:59 am

        Kevin can you give us the figures afor domestic electricity

      • April 16, 2016 9:18 am


        Electricity accounts for 32% of UK GHG, and domestic would be about a third of that, so about 10%

    • saveenergy permalink
      April 16, 2016 9:48 am

      @ Kevin you state –
      “As global warming ‘IS’ caused by the global rise in greenhouse gases”;
      please explain how you know this is a fact.

  31. Vernon E permalink
    April 16, 2016 11:31 am

    Bit late, sorry. Steam/methane reforming is highly endothermic and the reaction happens (in tubes) in a furnace at very high temperature fired by a fossil fuel (invariably gas) producing a flue gas of – yes, got it in one – carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Back to square one.

  32. Adam Gallon permalink
    April 18, 2016 4:46 pm

    Being a chemistry graduate, this piqued my interest.
    How do we go about converting methane to Hydrogen? Steam reforming.
    CH4 + H2O → CO + 3 H2
    Probably don’t want a load of toxic Carbon Monoxide around the place.
    CO + H2O → CO2 + H2
    OK, so what’s the point?
    Put this one into the bin labelled “Bloody stupid ideas”

    • July 11, 2016 12:28 pm

      em cos they think they will be trapping that CO2 in caverns etc.
      ///Probably the same caverns the greens say are too leaky for nuclear waste to be stored in.

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