Hydrogen Heating for Homes
ATCO, a major natural gas utility, believes hydrogen can be used to eliminate emissions from home heating. They’re running the first large-scale pilot program to provide homeowners with hydrogen-blended natural gas this year in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.
“We’re going to blend between 5 and 20 percent hydrogen into that community to start the process of decarbonization of the heat energy that is delivered to the city,” says Caldwell.
Renewable energy will power an electrolyzer to produce hydrogen on-site. In phase I of the pilot, 2,100 customers will receive natural gas blended with five percent hydrogen. In phase II, 500 customers will receive a blend of 20 percent hydrogen.
ATCO has done extensive testing on natural gas appliances and found there’s little difference in performance with hydrogen blends of less than about 30 percent.
The pilot will reduce emissions from home heating by up to 10%, but getting to net-zero will require more.
“We have yet to do a 100 percent hydrogen community. However, we've started the work in producing an appliance that can use 100 percent hydrogen,” says Caldwell.
Gradient Thermal is a Calgary company that makes energy-efficient combined furnaces and hot water systems. They're developing new models that run on pure hydrogen.
“We're very confident that our network can use and deliver 100 percent hydrogen to communities in the future,” says Caldwell.