Potential for a Hydrogen Village

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:13 am on 24 May 2022.

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Photo of Jacob Young Jacob Young Conservative, Redcar 11:13, 24 May 2022

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Bardell, and I thank Justin Madders. This will be a brief contribution, because I agree with everything he has just said. I do not know whether that will be politically unpopular for him. He is completely right that the HyNet project, led by Cadent, is helping to lead the world in the hydrogen revolution, just like the H21 project in Teesside and Yorkshire, led by Northern Gas Networks, and the H100 project in Fife in northern Scotland, led by SGN.

We must consider why hydrogen works as an alternative to other ways of decarbonising our homes. The hon. Member said that 85% of homes are connected to the gas network. We need to think of a way to decarbonise that. Let us be under no illusion that both ways end with significant costs, whether we go down the route of heat pumps in every home or hydrogen boilers, or a different one. Every way comes with a significant cost.

I should say that I am chair of the all-party parliamentary group on hydrogen, so I have a vested interest in this field. The reason I am so passionate about the hydrogen village project is that hydrogen represents an opportunity to take the consumer and the taxpayer along with us on the journey towards decarbonisation. With heat pumps, we will have to say to the owners of a terraced house in Middlesbrough, who are on a low income, that they will lose a large portion of their garden because they have to put a borehole in it for a heat pump; they will have to refit all their radiators; they will have to insulate the insides of their home differently; they will have to buy new furniture, because none of their furniture will fit anymore; and, on top of all that, we will charge them £5,000 for the pleasure, even with the Government grant. They will then have to change the way they heat their home altogether, because using a heat pump is more like using an Aga than a boiler. That is why I see hydrogen as representing an opportunity to decarbonise home heating, while taking the consumer along with us.

The hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston mentioned the significant benefits of a hydrogen village project in Ellesmere Port. There are also significant benefits in doing it in Redcar, which is fast becoming the centre of excellence for green technology, whether it be carbon capture and storage, wind power, solar energy, hydrogen production or nuclear power—Hartlepool’s nuclear power plant is on the north side of the river. A hydrogen village project in Redcar will allow someone to wake up in a hydrogen-heated home, go to a hydrogen-heated college, then perhaps go for a swim in a hydrogen-heated pool at the local leisure centre, get a hydrogen-powered ice cream, and even visit the hydrogen-powered office of the MP, because my office in Redcar is included in the proposed trial area.

This represents an opportunity for us to demonstrate decarbonisation, while taking people along with us in the long run. The hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston is right that next year we have an opportunity to decide between Redcar and Ellesmere Port, or we have the opportunity to choose both. That is my argument—it should not be an either/or. Ultimately, we do not want a hydrogen village in the UK; we want a hydrogen UK. To get to that stage, we need as much evidence as possible. To get that evidence, we need both Redcar and Ellesmere Port. We need the Government to focus on how we can take that forward for the whole of the UK. I commend the hon. Member for what he has said today, and I leave the Minister with that thought.