Hydrogen is Heating Hundreds of Homes in Scotland and the Netherlands

Scotland and the Netherlands are testing hydrogen in place of natural gas for zero-emissions heating and cooking in 325 homes

Hydrogen has been gaining steam as an energy source for cars, and now is being considered as a zero-emissions fuel for homes too.

Pilot programs in Scotland and the Netherlands are using hydrogen gas instead of natural gas for heat and cooking.

In Scotland, the hydrogen gas is created from water through the process of electrolysis, powered by an offshore wind turbine, and then stored in tanks ready for use. From there, it travels through pipelines, alongside current natural gas pipelines, to 300 homes.

The Netherlands, is using existing natural gas pipelines to pump hydrogen gas to 25 apartments from a local electrolysis facility. The country plans to expand the pilot program to 550 houses using the existing natural gas grid in 2025.

In the UK, 85 percent of homes are heated by natural gas, which would make the transition to hydrogen “gas” relatively simple, as all of the same old infrastructure could be used, compared with switching to electric heat pumps.

But unlike natural gas, burning hydrogen creates no greenhouse gas emissions.

In Japan, hydrogen gas is being used to power turbines that could generate electricity for homes in the future.

Some enthusiasts think hydrogen could be the key to unlocking infinite amounts of renewable electricity.

Hydrogen is wildly abundant, as it can be derived from water or biomass.

And, unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen does not produce greenhouse gases or pollutants when burned to produce heat or electricity. It emits only water vapor.

As long as the electrolysis process of deriving the hydrogen from water is powered by renewable energy, no emissions are produced at that point either (only at the point where the wind turbines, solar panels or hydro turbines are created).

Currently, hydrogen gas costs twice as much as natural gas to produce, but that could change as the infrastructure and technology improves.

Edited by Sara Burrows