This week, Cadent, a gas distributor, confirmed that its plans for a hydrogen gas network in Whitby, Cheshire, had not been chosen as the “preferred proposal” by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), due to opposition from locals. This dealt a serious blow to plans for the UK’s first “Hydrogen Village” trial.
“The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has informed us that ours is not the preferred proposal for the Hydrogen Village trial. We understand that this means that the Government is likely to progress the trial in Redcar rather than in Whitby in Ellesmere Port.
“We know that this will be disappointing to the many residents who told us they wanted their community to play a pioneering role in decarbonising how we heat our homes in the UK. We are incredibly grateful to everyone in Whitby who has given us their time and attention over the last year as we have developed our proposal,” Cadent said.
The choice was made after the energy regulator Ofgem last year whittled down the list of potential sites for a large-scale hydrogen heating trial to a project funded by Cadent and British Gas in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, and NGN’s plans for Redcar on the North Yorkshire coast.
The government intends to support a large-scale study starting in 2025 to switch up to 2,000 households’ natural gas appliances for hydrogen-compatible ones, such as hydrogen-ready boilers. The project will last for two years, during which time the gas will be supplied to the premises through a “appropriately modified” network.
The government claims that alternate heating systems and appliances will be made available for individuals who are unable or do not desire to participate, and that those who do participate will not pay extra to use hydrogen.
“We believe strongly in the role that hydrogen can play alongside other technologies and energy sources in reaching net zero. While Whitby won’t to be the location for the trial, the information we have gained over the last 12 months will still play an invaluable role in shaping how the UK heats its homes and businesses in the future,” the company said.
The project has faced opposition from some locals who don’t want the technology tested in their neighborhood, and green organizations who believe hydrogen should be used to decarbonize industrial processes rather than domestic heating, where significant emissions reductions can be achieved by switching to heat pumps, are opposed to the initiative.
In order to establish which homes were situated inside the proposed hydrogen village boundaries, Cadent and British Gas asserted to have written to every address in the Whitby neighborhood of Ellesmere Port in Cheshire in the spring of 2022. A free in-home hydrogen examination would be provided to about 2,000 houses, according to the trial’s administrators.
However, it appears that the plans were abandoned due to popular apprehension about the project. DESNZ emphasized in a statement that it had consistently stated that it would not impose the trials on communities without their support. It further stated that efforts are still being made to determine the precise location of the first hydrogen village trial, for which there is now only one viable option.