Answering your questions on our updated proposals (March 2023)
We have listened to the views of the Whitby community and we understand how important it is that you have a choice about your involvement in the programme. Our new proposal aims to address local feedback so that you can choose to opt in or opt out of the programme.
Everyone will have the choice to opt in or opt out. Those who opt for hydrogen will be part of the journey towards decarbonising our gas network and will receive new appliances and a full package of benefits in recognition of the time you give to support the delivery of the programme (such as completing surveys, giving access to your property, and providing feedback).
Those who opt out will be connected to the new natural gas main with no changes to your home. Switching to your new gas main will take up to a day – during this time your supply will be interrupted, and we will need to visit you to check everything’s working safely in your property.
This still gathers the evidence Government requires to shape its future strategy for cleaner heating, including:
– How to convert the existing gas network
– What needs to be done in properties
– Consumer feedback on using hydrogen
We regularly upgrade and lay new gas mains as part of our normal activity and seek to minimise disruption wherever possible. We anticipate the new main will take around 18 months to lay – during this period there will be some disruption to each street, including partial road closures. We will ensure you are informed of our activity in advance and that you have access to support throughout.
We’ve changed the options available based on feedback from the community. Rather than the offer of heat pumps, electric boilers, or panel radiators, those choosing not to have a hydrogen boiler will stay on natural gas with their existing appliances. For those choosing a hydrogen boiler, electric cookers and fires will still be available.
You can opt in and opt out of the project. It is important that we have details of the tenant as well as the landlord, as some of the benefits you are eligible for will need approval by the landlord and some by the tenant.
The offer for most businesses is the same as for residents. However, this may be different for some larger premises – if this is the case for you, we will contact you directly to discuss your bespoke options.
Based on local feedback, we want to provide certainty around what happens after the programme. We can confirm that those who choose hydrogen will be reconnected to natural gas when the programme ends.
Further details about what this means if you opt in or opt out can be found on our website Our Latest Proposals – Whitby (hydrogenvillage.com)
The Government will consider our revised proposal and decide later this year whether Whitby is selected for the Hydrogen Village programme or Redcar in the North East.
Whilst you don’t need to make a decision now, we would encourage you to read the information on our website and to get in touch with us if you have any questions.
We are inviting residents to find out more and give feedback as part of a series of events. Further details can be found here.
Your Frequently Asked Questions
Will the Hydrogen Village cost residents anything?
People who own, work or live in properties in the Hydrogen Village area won’t pay a penny for the conversion.
If you opt in to the Hydrogen Village trial, your property will be supplied with low-carbon hydrogen for around two years from 2025 – and throughout that time, we’ll price match hydrogen to natural gas. You’ll also get hydrogen appliances installed, provided and maintained free-of-charge for the programme duration, as well as a range of additional benefits and a cash payment of £2,500 for participating.
After the programme, those who have hydrogen supplied to their property will be reconnected to natural gas and given free brand-new natural gas appliances for their home.
What is hydrogen and why is it good for heating?
By 2050, the UK has committed to reach net zero – meaning we’ll be adding no more carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, than we remove.
To reach net zero, we need to reduce our average household’s CO2 emissions by 95%.
Currently, most of the UK’s homes rely upon carbon-emitting natural gas for their heating, hot water and cooking. Replacing that with a different gas (hydrogen) is one option for helping tackle this challenge – because when hydrogen’s burned as a fuel, it doesn’t produce harmful CO2 emissions.
Hydrogen can be easily transported to the homes and businesses that are connected to the UK’s existing network of gas pipes. Plus, the boilers used in 85% of the UK’s homes can be replaced with versions that run on hydrogen.
Low-carbon hydrogen can be made in the UK.
Where will the Hydrogen Village programme take place?
Two Hydrogen Village locations are being considered. One of them is in an area within Whitby, Ellesmere Port (and the other’s in the North East).
Whitby is located in close proximity to a range of initiatives that will ensure that the North West is at the forefront of hydrogen development and delivery.
Other factors that make Whitby an ideal location for this programme include how easy it is to adapt the existing gas network, the type of housing stock, and the opportunity to expand to other areas at the end of the project.
At the start of May 2022, letters were sent to every address within the boundaries of the proposed Hydrogen Village area within Whitby (Ellesmere Port), to inform residents and businesses of the programme.
I live within the proposed Hydrogen Village area. Do I have a choice about how I get involved?
Yes. In March 2023, we updated our proposals in response to local feedback, by giving residents and businesses the choice to opt in to the programme or opt out.
Under our new plans, you can opt in to the programme and take a hydrogen boiler and hydrogen fire and cooker (full hydrogen bundle) or take a hydrogen boiler alongside an electric cooker and/or fire (part hydrogen bundle).
If you wish to opt out, you will remain on natural gas supplied by a new gas main and can keep using your existing appliances as normal.
What type of hydrogen will be supplied to Whitby, Ellesmere Port?
We are committed to a low carbon Hydrogen Village trial and will use green hydrogen.
However, to ensure a resilient supply of hydrogen, we are currently looking at a number of sources, which are subject to commercial discussions.
Similarly, today we ensure a resilient supply of natural gas by using a number of different sources; North Sea, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), Interconnectors form Europe.
Currently, none of the hydrogen options we are exploring are blue.
Why is the Hydrogen Village important?
The Hydrogen Village, also known as the ‘hydrogen village trial’, will demonstrate how 100% hydrogen can be used for heating and cooking instead of natural gas.
It will focus on converting a ‘village-sized’ area of around 2,000 homes and businesses connected to the existing public gas grid, to run on hydrogen for around two years. The programme will help the UK Government decide how hydrogen could be used nationally.
The Hydrogen Village will build on a series of more focussed projects of using 100% hydrogen for the same purpose, that have taken place in recent years by gas network companies, working with the Government, the Health & Safety Executive and other industry organisations.
The Hydrogen Village is linked to, but separate to, the work that has been done to demonstrate the safety of using up to 20% hydrogen without any changes to the gas grid or people’s household appliances.
When will hydrogen start being supplied to Whitby?
Hydrogen could be supplied in an area of up to 2,000 homes in Whitby (Ellesmere Port) from 2025.
We have been engaging with the local community and undertaking surveys in homes and businesses since May 2022, evidence from which was submitted to Government in March 2023. We will continue to speak to residents over the coming months to understand whether they support the programme and wish to opt in or opt out.
We expect a decision about the project location to be made by Government in Autumn 2023 – either the area within Whitby in the North West, or a location in the North East.
How much will hydrogen reduce CO2 emissions?
When it’s burned as a fuel, in cookers and boilers, hydrogen doesn’t produce any carbon dioxide emissions – unlike natural gas, which is currently used by about 85% of UK homes (resulting in an average 2.7 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, per house).
There’s a few ways to produce the low-carbon hydrogen that could be used for heating and cooking in the future.
At first some of the hydrogen will be made from methane with the CO2 from production removed and stored away.
Over the longer term hydrogen will increasingly be made by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy, with almost no CO2 emissions.
Is hydrogen safe?
Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs) will work to ensure hydrogen is delivered and can be used at least as safely as natural gas in Hydrogen Villages, 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.
What’s already been prepared for a switch to hydrogen?
Lots of work has already been carried out to prepare for a possible switch from natural gas to hydrogen.
71,000km of plastic hydrogen-ready piping has been already installed around the country – equalling 74% of the total used by local gas distribution networks (and more than enough to go around the world one and a half times).
And boiler manufacturers are already building hydrogen-ready appliances.
There’s also been a number of projects that have demonstrated the effectiveness of hydrogen for cooking and heating.
- A project called HyDeploy, which has been pioneering the blending of up to 20% hydrogen (by volume) into the gas grid. Read more
- The ground-breaking H21 project, which has successfully tested existing gas network infrastructure. Read more here.
- The Hy4Heat programme, which demonstrated the use of hydrogen-ready appliances in homes. Read more here.
- As a precursor to the launch of Hydrogen Communites, a smaller ‘neighbourhood trial’ will take place. Called H100 Fife, this will be run by SGN in Fife, Scotland, supplying 100% hydrogen to around 300 homes. This will demonstrate that hydrogen, transported in a newly installed gas network, can heat homes. You can find out more about that project here.
Who’s running the Hydrogen Village programme?
The potential Hydrogen Village programme in Whitby, Ellesmere Port, will be led by the North West’s gas distribution network Cadent, which is responsible for managing the gas pipes and other infrastructure that currently deliver gas to people’s homes and businesses.
Cadent will be partnering with British Gas to deliver the programme. We will also be working with Cheshire West and Chester Council, Government, energy regulator Ofgem, and the Health & Safety Executive.
Will I need additional ventilation in my home?
The Hy4Heat project considered the use of hydrogen within the home and identified a number of safety measures that could be implemented, including additional ventilation. That project demonstrated that homes could be safely converted to operate with hydrogen.
Cadent are currently developing on the Hy4Heat work, applying the outcomes specifically for the Whitby area. This includes taking into consideration the opinions of residents regarding the inconvenience and disruption that installing additional ventilation may cause and the impact on energy efficiency of homes.
The need for additional ventilation remains a consideration along with other measures identified in the Hy4Heat work. We are also looking at safety measures that were not considered within the Hy4Heat work but which may reduce or remove the need for additional ventilation within homes.
We will be able to provide more detailed information on the proposals once our risk assessment work is complete.
Cadent has reviewed the original 32 studies and there are several factors which have led us to question the often-quoted headline that ‘all independent studies show no role for hydrogen in home heating’:
• Several important studies by Imperial College, key advisors to the Climate Change Committee, were excluded. This includes their 2021 report with the Carbon Trust, ‘Flexibility in GB’; or Imperial’s subsequent report ‘Whole Energy System Modelling for Heat Decarbonisation’ both of which show hydrogen for heat as cost effective when compared with electrification.
• One of the original 32 studies quoted is the Imperial report ‘Multi-model assessment of heat decarbonisation options in the UK using electricity and hydrogen’, the abstract of which states that ‘Quantitative results point to the cost-effectiveness of using a mix of electricity and hydrogen technologies for delivering zero-carbon heat’.
• Only 7 of the studies were UK-focused. The remaining 26 studies were EU and globally facing. This is important because UK housing stock and potential to cost-effectively produce and distribute hydrogen is very different to other countries, especially those without a majority of the population connected to an existing gas grid which can be converted to supply hydrogen.
• Around 40% of the studies set out conditions that would make hydrogen economic for heat. This is mainly about the price of producing hydrogen. The articles ignore the projected fall in the cost of the fuel as the technology improves.
• There is an assumption made that ‘If all homes are converted to hydrogen, off gas-grid homes will need costly hydrogen storage tanks’. However, there is no suggestion that every home in the UK – on or off-grid – should be converted. Indeed, Cadent supports a mixed approach to the decarbonisation of home heating.
Answering residents’ questions
We have received many questions from residents over the last few months – some of the most common ones can be found below.
These links will take you to other questions we received from groups and individuals, along with the answers we have collated.
Please note: we add to this bank of questions and answers regularly, as we receive them.
If you have a specific question you would like answering please go to our Contact Us page.