Hydrogen Village trial proposal FAQs
Government confirms that Whitby will no longer be considered for the Hydrogen Village trial
Friday, 21 July 2023
The Government has officially confirmed that Whitby, Ellesmere Port, will no longer be considered as the location for the hydrogen village trial. Due to this update, the poll about the hydrogen village trial will no longer be run by the Council this summer, as planned. The Council would like to thank all residents and local members for their involvement and input with the engagement exercise about the poll.
Below are some of the answers to some common questions that have been raised by residents to the Council about the trial Hydrogen Village in Whitby, Ellesmere Port.
The Council has been supportive of the trial however this has always been dependent on residents' buy-in. The Council is not the decision maker regarding the trial, however we will be sharing the views of residents and stakeholders gathered at our recent engagement event and through a poll, due to take place in summer 2023, to the Government to consider in their deliberation about the programme.
As one of the highest emitting areas for carbon in the UK, the Council is committed to take action to mitigate the impact of climate change for our residents. We know we need to be ambitious to achieve our target of being a carbon neutral borough by 2045. The way we heat our homes will play a big part in this and we will work with our residents to explore options that are right for our communities, including the option of the use of Hydrogen.
The trial is in part a result of the widely respected and independent Climate Change Committee's1 recommendations on the potential for Hydrogen to play a role in the UK's heating policy in the future. It set out, in 2018, that hydrogen boilers can play a role in meeting a proportion of the UK's heat requirements, particularly at peak times, while recognising that heat pumps are also an essential part of the heat policy mix.
The way to gather the evidence needed to inform the UK's heat policy is to undertake trials, recognising that the only certainty we have is that the continued use of natural gas for home heating is not sustainable. The Climate Change Committee's Sixth Carbon Budget2, which sets out options for how the UK can achieve its legally binding emission reduction targets, includes 11 per cent3of UK homes using hydrogen for heat - almost three million homes, in its balanced pathway. The balanced pathway is a recommended scenario that reaches net zero by 2050.
The Council does not, however, advocate for residents to make any particular choice as part of the trial.
No. The Council does not have decision-making authority over the trial or the identified location for the trial.
The trial has been initiated by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) via the Government's ten-point plan for the Green Industrial Revolution and is managed by Ofgem, the energy regulator. These bodies will take any decisions regarding the ultimate location and progress of the trial.
Cadent, the UK's largest gas distribution network, made the decision regarding which area within their network would be nominated.
At the start of the project, west Cheshire was identified by Cadent as a potential location for the trial, due to its proximity to planned hydrogen production within the industrial area. Within west Cheshire, Helsby was identified as one possible location for the trial, mainly due to the configuration of the network and being close to HyNet.
In the interest of identifying the most suitable location in the borough near to hydrogen production, the Council asked Cadent to consider Ellesmere Port, given the Ellesmere Port Industrial area is the home of HyNet. Cadent identified Whitby within Ellesmere Port, due to the potential to configure the network in a way that allows the isolation of the trial area from the natural gas network, so that hydrogen could be supplied just to the properties within the trial area.
Cadent assessed the two areas and considered that Whitby was the most suitable area for the trial, based on a range of factors including technical feasibility, proximity to hydrogen production and strategic fit with the Government's Hydrogen plans.
The Council was contacted by Cadent about the trial proposal in August 2021. There were confidentiality requirements at an early stage as a result of the competitive nature of the process ran by Ofgem and initiated by Government between gas networks. These were not imposed by Cadent, Councillors or other representatives. These confidentiality requirements applied until 6 May 2022, when Ofgem confirmed Whitby and Redcar as the potential locations of the trial. By week commencing 9 May, a press release had been issued providing information about the trial, and letters were issues to all households within the area shortly after.
No. The Council has not received or been offered funding to support the proposal.
The Government, Health and Safety Executive, gas networks and all stakeholders are prioritising safety throughout. The Hy4Heat programme, commissioned in 2018 by Government, concluded that: "Although there are differences between natural gas and hydrogen; through correct implementation of a holistic collection of risk reduction measures, the risk of using hydrogen can be made comparable to natural gas". Both Cadent and NGN (the gas network for the Redcar trial) are engaging closely with Government and wider stakeholders to ensure the utilisation of hydrogen is as safe as the use of natural gas. The trial will not proceed until this is fully assured by regulatory bodies.
The Council has been engaging with Cadent since the announcement of the proposed Hydrogen Village trial area to encourage and support the delivery of open public events with a range of evidence showcased.
In February the Council hosted an engagement event providing residents with the opportunity to share their views, ask questions and hear from a panel of experts with a range of viewpoints about the proposed pilot.
The Council is not the decision maker regarding the trial, however we said we would share the views of residents and stakeholders gathered at the above event and had said that we'd hold a poll about the trial during the summer.
Since then the Government has announced that Whitby, Ellesmere Port, will no longer be considered as the location for the hydrogen village trial. Due to this update, the poll about the hydrogen village trial will no longer be run by the Council this summer, as planned.
More FAQs can be found on Cadent’s Hydrogen Village website: