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Second pilot project is launched involving hydrogen for the heating of homes following ACM’s approval

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has given the green light to a second pilot project in which hydrogen is used for heating homes. This pilot project involves distribution system operator (DSO) Enexis and 33 rental properties in the northern Dutch town of Wagenborgen.

In this pilot project, part of the existing natural-gas network will be used for supplying hydrogen gas to these homes. In November 2022, ACM already gave the green light to a similar project involving DSO Liander in the Berkeloord district of the eastern Dutch town of Lochem. The project in Wagenborgen is thus the second pilot project that is launched under ACM’s Temporary framework regarding hydrogen pilots (in Dutch: Tijdelijk kader waterstofpilots). Unlike in the first pilot project, the homes in this second pilot project will be equipped with hybrid heat pumps. In addition, this project’s scope is larger, and its duration is longer (ten years in total).

For the households participating in the project, the price of hydrogen will be equal to that of natural gas. Since additional insulation will be added to these homes prior to the project, and since they will be equipped with a new hybrid heat pump, residents are likely to see their energy costs go down. During the pilot project, a parallel natural-gas network will be available to households that do not participate. Participants will thus have the option of leaving the pilot project and reverting back to natural gas.

Hydrogen is expected to play a major role in the future supply of sustainable energy (for example in industry), but it is still uncertain what role it can play in the heating of homes (or certain types thereof). With these hydrogen pilot projects, system operators and energy suppliers, ahead of new legislation, are able to gain experience, as a result of which it will become clearer what the technical possibilities are for using hydrogen in the heating of homes. ACM gives the green light to these pilot projects, provided that the companies involved comply with the consumer protection rules laid down in the Temporary framework regarding hydrogen pilots, and provided that the safety of these projects are properly guaranteed. The Dutch State Supervision of Mines (SodM) will conduct oversight over safety matters in the distribution of hydrogen to residences, and, in its regulatory report, has ruled that the pilot project in Wagenborgen meets the safety requirements. The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) has laid down the safety requirements for these kinds of projects in guidelines.

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