Why 2,000 homes in Ellesmere Port could help solve our climate crisis

future of energy

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  • Confirmed: an area of up to 2,000 properties in Ellesmere Port has made the shortlist (of two) to be the UK’s first ‘hydrogen village’
  • This is critical to helping end the UK’s reliance on natural gas for heating, by switching to cleaner hydrogen
  • Conversations with residents start today, to help inform a decision on whether the Ellesmere Port project would get the go-ahead
  • If picked, every property in the ‘village’ will get free upgrades to their home, such as modern, low-carbon, hydrogen-ready boilers
Ellesmere Port could be home to the UK’s first ‘hydrogen village’ in a project that’s critical to helping solve the global climate crisis.
 
Up to 2,000 properties in the Whitby area of the town would stop using natural gas for heating and cooking, and instead use hydrogen.
 
The proposal, put forward by gas distribution network Cadent and British Gas, and supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council, is today confirmed in a shortlist of two locations hoping to be the first to use hydrogen on this scale.
 
The chosen location will start being supplied with hydrogen in 2025.
 
Hydrogen can be supplied through the existing network of gas pipes. Unlike natural gas, it produces no carbon emissions when burned in a boiler to heat properties.
 
If Ellesmere Port is picked as the ‘hydrogen village’, every property in the selected area within Whitby will get free boiler upgrades, to new hydrogen-ready versions. This means residents continue using boilers they are familiar with today.
 
There is a guarantee too that, for the duration of the two-year programme, residents will pay the same to use hydrogen as they would pay for using natural gas.
 
Marc Clarke, Head of Hydrogen Consumer, Cadent, said:
 
“This is a really exciting project that puts Whitby in Ellesmere Port right at the heart of a lower carbon future for the country as a whole.

“Previous projects have clearly shown hydrogen’s potential, and now, with this scheme, we are showing how hydrogen can be used at scale to cut emissions from heating and cooking.
 
“We already know that Whitby has an unparalleled geographic location for hydrogen. The North West is already on track to produce the low carbon hydrogen required for the scheme from Ellesmere Port’s HyNet project, and we have been undertaking work over the past few years to ensure the region’s pipes are ready to take hydrogen.”
 
Energy regulator Ofgem and the Government today said Ellesmere Port and one other project (in the North East of England) could proceed to the next stage.
 
Cadent and British Gas have written to all residents whose properties would be supplied with hydrogen, to explain the programme in more detail. Every property in the area will be surveyed and residents will be consulted throughout.
 
More information, including answers to lots of questions and a map showing the area selected, is at www.hydrogenvillage.com.
 
Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said:
 
“To help cut carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in west Cheshire by 2045 we are looking at a range of different solutions, including alternative energy options, as set out in our Climate Emergency Response Plan.
 
“We’re already in a unique position to have the HyNet development on our doorstep, providing an opportunity to use hydrogen as a source of energy, not only to power industry in our area but also our homes.  It will also provide significant job opportunities in a new, expanding sector, for people both locally and further afield. 
 
“With the hope that the full 2025 village programme will be awarded to our region, the Council and Cadent will be working closely to create a strong community programme, with residents in Whitby, Ellesmere Port and throughout the borough. Residents will be engaged and empowered to co-produce this project throughout the process.”
 
Currently, the average UK household emits over 2.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – mainly by burning natural (fossil) gas for heating, hot water, and cooking. Replacing natural gas with hydrogen is one option for tackling this challenge.
 
The recognition of Ellesmere Port as the potential location for the hydrogen village is the latest in a series of developments that are defining the North West as a leader in the emerging hydrogen economy.
 
One of the best-known projects is HyNet at Ellesmere Port’s Stanlow Manufacturing Complex. This will produce, store, and distribute low-carbon hydrogen from the mid 2020s, as well as capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions from industry in the region.
 
ENDS
 
Hydrogen for heat
The UK is on an important journey to reduce harmful emissions, such as carbon dioxide. By 2050 we need to reach Net Zero – meaning no more emissions are added into the atmosphere, than can be removed.
Currently most UK homes and businesses rely on natural gas, a fossil fuel, for heating and cooking. This accounts for around 23% of our overall carbon dioxide emissions.
In recent years, projects have shown that a different gas, hydrogen, can be used for heating, hot water, and cooking.
  • When hydrogen is burned as a fuel, it does not produce CO2 emissions. 
  • 85% of the UK's homes already use gas boilers, which can be replaced with versions that run on hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen can be easily transported to the homes and businesses that are connected to the UK’s existing network of gas pipes.
  • Low-carbon hydrogen can be made in the UK. It is already set to be produced at the HyNet production facilities in Ellesmere Port, from the mid-2020s. HyNet is expected to provide around 6,000 jobs in the region.
The Hydrogen Village programme
Energy regulator Ofgem and the Government will be asking one of the UK’s Gas Distribution Networks to show how to reduce emissions from heating, by supplying hydrogen through gas local pipes to around 2,000 properties.
 
This will happen for around two years, from 2025, and is a key milestone in the Government’s ‘10 point plan for a green industrial revolution’.
 
This ‘Hydrogen Village’ programme will follow on from the use of hydrogen gas in 300 houses in Fife, Scotland.
 
In consultation with Cheshire West & Chester Council, Cadent has identified an area within Whitby as an ideal location for the Hydrogen Village programme. This is due to Whitby’s closeness to Stanlow Manufacturing Complex, where low-carbon hydrogen will be produced from the mid-2020s.
 
Up to 2,000 properties in an area of Whitby would be supplied with hydrogen from 2025, if the Hydrogen Village programme goes ahead locally. All residents of the identified area within Whitby have been written to.
 
Later this year, Cadent and British Gas will start carrying out local surveys to understand how the ‘Hydrogen Village’ programme could be delivered within this area of Whitby. In 2023, after the surveys are completed, Ofgem will confirm whether the Hydrogen Village programme will take place within Whitby.
 

Cadent

Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

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