About the project

What is the Redcar Hydrogen Community?

It is a proposal from Northern Gas Networks for some areas of Redcar and Kirkleatham to use hydrogen instead of natural gas for cooking and heating.

Who are Northern Gas Networks?

Northern Gas Networks is the local gas distributor, responsible for delivering gas to homes and businesses in Redcar and across the North East of England, northern Cumbria and most of Yorkshire. As part of this project, Northern Gas Networks would supply hydrogen through the gas pipes in the Redcar Hydrogen Community instead of the natural gas which is supplied to customers today. 

Why hydrogen?

As part of the Government’s commitment to tackle climate change, it has committed to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This means we need to move away from using natural gas as it creates carbon and is responsible for up to a third of the UK’s carbon emissions.  Hydrogen doesn’t create carbon when it is burned so is a more environmentally source of energy and can be compatible with future targets.

When would this happen?

We will find out in 2023 whether the project will go ahead and if it does, the switch to using 100% hydrogen would happen in 2025 following work to prepare the network. The project would then last around two years.

At the moment, we are completing work to submit to our regulator, Ofgem and the Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in support of Redcar. The project is the ‘hydrogen village’ described in the Prime Minister’s 10 point plan and Heat and Buildings Strategy. This work includes liaising with those businesses and homes in the area who would be supplied with hydrogen.  

Why Redcar?

Northern Gas Networks selected Redcar because there are already commitments to produce hydrogen in the area and it makes sense for the communities located closest to the production to be the first to use it.

The Government has highlighted that the hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million by 2030 and create as many as 12,000 jobs.  The hydrogen economy represents a great opportunity for Redcar and the local area and the project gives the community the opportunity to use locally produced, low carbon energy.

Is it safe?

We’re working to ensure hydrogen is delivered and can be used at least as safely as natural gas and are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

HSE uses the regulatory framework to improve the management of health and safety risks by gas networks, and is also assessing the evidence on the safety of using hydrogen in homes and the networks.

Hydrogen actually formed up to 50% of towns gas which was used before the conversion to natural gas in the 1960s and 70s but this is one of the first projects to see communities use 100% hydrogen. 

Will we be the first to use hydrogen?

No, 20% hydrogen has already been used by residents in Winlaton, near Gateshead and 100% hydrogen will be used by a community of a few hundred homes in Fife, Scotland. The Redcar project would be the next phase with up to 2,000 properties using hydrogen plus some local businesses, the leisure centre and shops using 100% hydrogen from 2025.

How long will the project last?

The conversion to hydrogen would happen in 2025 and last around two years.  This enables us to gather data across different demand levels as gas usage varies greatly, depending largely on the weather.

How will the hydrogen for the project be generated?

The hydrogen used by customers in the Redcar Hydrogen Community will be predominantly locally produced, low carbon hydrogen. This means that not only does the hydrogen not produce any carbon when used, it also creates little or no carbon when it is made. This is known as ‘green’ hydrogen.

To ensure a continuous supply of hydrogen in the case of severe weather, or lower than expected production, we may use other sources of hydrogen from time to time. This will ensure the hydrogen supply is as resilient as today’s gas supply.

During the project

Can I continue to use natural gas?

No, as we will be changing the fuel supplied in our pipes from natural gas to hydrogen it won’t be possible to continue using natural gas.

What happens if I don’t want to use hydrogen?

If you don’t wish to use hydrogen you can switch to using electricity for heating and cooking during the project and we will make arrangements to support you in installing electrical alternatives in place of your natural gas appliances and ensure you are not financially disadvantaged as a result of this change. 

Will my gas appliances work with hydrogen?

Your gas appliances, including if you have them a gas boiler, cooker and fire as well as your gas meter, will need be replaced with new appliances if the project goes ahead.  Hydrogen appliances have already been developed and are being demonstrated at our Hydrogen Home near Gateshead.  

They work in the same way as the natural gas appliances you use today and look very similar. 

The radiators in your home will work with the hydrogen appliances so would not need to change.

You may find this video which shows the appliances and explains how they work of interest –

 

Who will pay for the new appliances?

The project will fund the hydrogen appliances for your home and carry out any additional work which is necessary as a result of the new appliances being installed. In addition, we will take your natural gas appliances away and service the new appliances for the project duration of around two years.

Will I be able to choose my appliances?

We will have a selection of appliances for you to choose from and these will be presented to you when available.

Will hydrogen smell like natural gas?

The natural gas we supply today does not smell, it has a distinct odour added to it, to warn everyone of a leak.

The same odour will be added to hydrogen.

Is hydrogen more expensive than natural gas?

At the moment, hydrogen is more expensive to produce than natural gas due to the production methods and much smaller quantities produced. However, we will be ensuring that during the project you will pay no more for the hydrogen than you would have paid had you been using natural gas.

It is expected that in the future as the supply of hydrogen increases to meet demand, the price will fall.

I’m a tenant – how does this affect me?

If you are a tenant living within the proposed Redcar Hydrogen Community, we will liaise with your landlord about the proposed switch to hydrogen gas and how it may affect the appliances in your home.

The landlord will need agree to us undertaking a survey at the property.

If the project goes live and you pay for your gas and electricity bill, we will ensure that you do not pay any more than you would have done, had you continued to use natural gas. 

I’m a landlord – how does this affect me?

If you own a business or home in the Redcar Hydrogen Community we will contact you with information about the project and how it may affect the appliances in your property.

You will to need agree to us undertaking a survey at the property and it will be your decision about whether to choose electric or hydrogen, if the project goes ahead.

Will I be compensated for taking part in this pilot ?

If the project goes ahead, the home and business owners in the Redcar Hydrogen Community will receive the following benefits;

  • Brand new appliances free of charge
  • Installation and servicing of the new appliances free of charge for the project duration
  • Our guarantee that you will not pay any more for your energy than you would if you were still on natural gas
  • Monthly shopping vouchers in exchange for giving some information about your experience of using hydrogen 

After the project

What happens at the end of the project?

At the end of the project either the supply of hydrogen will continue or the area will revert back to using natural gas.

Whatever the outcome, you will not be financially disadvantaged either during the trial or at the end.