The Anonymous Widower

Could Hydrogen Replace Natural Gas In Domestic Properties?

This post was suggested by this article on the Chronicle Live, which is entitled Thousands of Tyneside Homes Could Be Fuelled By Hydrogen Under £22bn Plan.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Thousands of homes across Tyneside and the wider North East could be converted to run on hydrogen in an effort to hit climate change targets.

The H21 North of England report, published today, has called for more than 700,000 homes across Tyneside and Teesside to be converted to run on hydrogen by 2034.

The moves have been proposed by Northern Gas Networks, which supplies gas to the North East, and its North West and Midlands counterpart Cadent, in association with Norwegian energy company Equinor.

It would be feasible to convert houses from natural gas to hydrogen.

In fact, there is a small proportion of hydrogen in natural gas anyway.

But just because it is feasible, it doesn’t mean it is a good idea.

Who Pays?

Consumers would feel, that they shouldn’t pay any more.


I remember being converted from town to natural gas in the 1970s.

We only had an ancient gas cooker and conversion was not a problem, but what will happen, if your boiler or cooker is not convertible?

New Technologies

I don’t like gas cookers, so in my current house, I only have a four-year-old modern boiler, so houses like mine wouldn’t be a problem.

Also according to various people, I’ve met, the trend in cookers is to go to induction appliances, which would take a variable out of the conversion equation.

I see lots of new housing and other construction, advertised as low energy, with high insulation levels and solar panels everywhere.

Add in innovative district heating systems and I can see new housing being built without the need of a gas supply.

This must surely be safer, as gas does seem to cause a lot of deaths in homes.

Just Say No!

So what happens, if you say no and your area is being converted to hydrogen?

Do you lose your gas supply?

Creation Of The Hydrogen

This article on the Internet is entitled Northern Gas Networks: One Company’s Ambitious Plan To Cut Carbon Emissions For An Entire Nation.

This is said about the creation of the hydrogen.

The first step is getting access to enough hydrogen. The most widely used method to produce hydrogen is steam-methane reforming, which involves reacting methane (CH4) with high-temperature steam (H2O), which creates carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2). But hydrogen isn’t a clean fuel if that carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere. So the reactor which produces hydrogen will have to be paired with carbon capture and storage, a process where carbon dioxide is captured before it enters the air, and then pumped underground for safe, permanent storage.

Companies, politicians and academics have been waffling on about carbon capture and storage for decades and I believe at the present time, it is one of those technologies, which is akin to burning large numbers of fifty pound notes.

I do think that at some point in the future, a clever chemist will design a chemical plant, where carbon dioxide goes in one end and sheets, rods or components of carbon fibre, graphene or other carbon form come out the other end.

In my view it is much better to not create the carbon dioxide in the first place.

The obvious way is to use surplus wind power to electrolyse water and produce hydrogen. It is a clean process and the only by-product is oxygen, which no-one has yet flagged up as dangerous.


The objective of this project may be laudable, but there is a lot of development and thinking that needs to be done.


November 23, 2018 - Posted by | Hydrogen, World | , , ,


  1. Deep in the depths of my memory from schooldays, I have an idea that hydrogen is more flammable than helium – I remember it from something to do with airships. They exploded and flames and killed everyone. And we are suggesting this is houses with people in them? There are of course fatalities with natural gas as well, but not in any great number. Reminds me of playground equipment; it needs to be risk assessed for the stupid things people might do with it, as well as what they are supposed to do with it! When our old gas fire was not repairable, we replaced it with a lovely flame effect electric fire for half the price, and no cost to install or service. We have a gas boiler, but when that breaks permanently I would want to look at biomass first of all.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | November 23, 2018 | Reply

  2. Hydrogen is one of the main constituents of coal gas. I recall as a boy using a bicycle pump to fill a balloon with coal gas, and as I had predicted, it floated to the ceiling. It didn’t stay there for more than half an hour, as something the coal gas was not rubber friendly, and the gas leaked out. as the rubber perished.
    The cost of changing to hydrogen production is massive, and may be less polluting at the point of use, but like electricity is has a production pollution cost. Also the change to all the meters and gas fired equipment is also huge. I do think that there are better things that there are more cost effective that could be done to reduce pollution, such as restricting the speed and acceleration of motor vehicles, with the cost borne by car owners. This would probably also reduce accidents. For modern cars, this would probably only require a change to the software, and older cars could be exempt. It would change the need for large engines in new cars, as there would be no need for them, which could also help with emissions. The range of electric cars is significantly reduced by hard acceleration, which users more power and therefore has a generation pollution cost.
    Helium is not inflammable, and hydrogen carries the same risk as any other inflammable gas.

    Comment by John Wright | November 23, 2018 | Reply

  3. I feel that in a few years time most new houses will have solar panels and a garage ready for an electric car. The battery of the car would also be used as part of the house energy storage system.

    But houses will go increasingly electric.

    Comment by AnonW | November 23, 2018 | Reply

  4. Did you look at the full report they produced? This includes a detailed evaluation of the main methods of producing hydrogen at scale, and their conclusion seems to be that electrolysis shows a lot of promise, but there isn’t the manufacturing capacity around at the moment to handle this size of project.

    I’ve just been looking at Scotland’s recently released vision for energy networks up to 2030 This too has a strong emphasis on changing the gas supply to 100% hydrogen, and also emphasises creating hydrogen via methane reforming and carbon capture; AFAICS electrolysis isn’t once mentioned. The Chancellor’s recent Spring Statement mentioned ‘green gas’, i.e. biomethane, which is closer to natural gas, so should be easier to use as a substitute. I’m not sure how suitable this is for mass production either.

    I can quite easily see gas cookers being replaced by electric. Most households these days probably use a microwave for at least some cooking, and as you say induction hobs are probably a good alternative to gas ones (though you do have to buy a new set of pots, which adds to the expense).

    I doubt though that this will make much of a dent in greenhouse gases, as the bulk of household energy is used for heating. I don’t see how solar panels can help with this, because the sun doesn’t shine enough at the time when you need the heating (even more so in Scotland). I find it hard to imagine the amount of storage you would need to store the summer sunshine for use in winter – at current prices, far beyond the average household budget, I would guess.

    Copenhagen shows what can be done with district heating, so maybe a combination with hydrogen supplying such plants would be a possibility.

    Comment by Peter Robins | March 19, 2019 | Reply

    • Points.

      1. Hydrogen by electrolysis is the way to go. I used to work in such an ICI plant at Runcorn. It’s now INEOS and much better.

      2. Hydrogen can be stored in certain types of mine workings and other structures. If produced by electrolysis, it’s a good way of storing excess wind or solar energy.

      3. I have a friend, who’s a Michelin starred chef. He says induction cooking is so much easier, so converting to electric cooking might improve the standard of food everywhere.

      4. Gas cookers are a large cause of asthma.

      5. In old coal mining areas, you can use heat from old mines to provide district heating systems.

      6. One of the reasons steam reforming is used to make hydrogen is that it uses gas, which is plentiful and companies like Shell have masses of.

      Comment by AnonW | March 19, 2019 | Reply

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