Researchers claim to have built Europe's first 'zero-emission' house powered by hydrogen

The hydrogen-powered fuel cells generate the electricity and heating required to meet the building's needs.
Baba Tamim
Hydrogen renewable energy production, stock photo.
Hydrogen renewable energy production, stock photo.

audioundwerbung/iStock 

Researchers in Italy claim to have built Europe's first house powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

This solution was developed by scientists at the University of Sannio in southern Italy in collaboration with private companies, Euronews reported on Thursday.

"Lately, we have focussed on the issue of CO2 emissions in the environment and worked on the idea of using hydrogen to make this house a completely self-sufficient system," Gerardo Canfora, the dean of the University of Sannio, told Euronews.

The energy crisis and climate change are forcing European institutions to find ways to reduce their use of fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. And this newly engineered house hits both marks.

The Benevento building is a student house as well as a living laboratory - a real-life experiment to assess the benefits and limitations of these technologies for future homes and offices.

According to the team at the University of Sannio, the hydrogen-powered fuel cells generate the electricity and heating required to meet the building's needs.

Not only that, but the building generates renewable energy from solar and geothermal sources, earning it the title of "zero-emission building."

The Stress Consortium, a technical research center for sustainable construction, provided assistance in the building's design and construction.

It's touted to serve as inspiration for upcoming plans to power homes and businesses with hydrogen fuel cells.

Earlier claims of a hydrogen-powered house

The first entirely energy-sufficient house in the world was claimed to be built by Swedish centenarian Hans Olof Nilsson in the suburbs of Gothenburg, Europe. It's powered by the sun and hydrogen.

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His residence is claimed to be off the grid since March 2015.

The 160 square meters of solar panels on the smart home supply it with electricity all year long. When there is less need for energy, the extra electricity is used to power a hydrogen fuel cell.

The originality of this strategy charmed the Swedish authorities. And the town of Vagarda made the decision to work with Nilsson in 2017 to renovate 172 social housing units.

Europe's energy crisis and hydrogen-power ambitions

Researchers claim to have built Europe's first 'zero-emission' house powered by hydrogen
Russia and EU gas pipeline, illustration.

Last week, the European Commission approved public financing from thirteen Member States totaling up to €5.2 billion for the second significant project of common interest in Europe in the hydrogen value chain.

Thirteen Member States—Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden—coordinated the preparation and notification of the project, known as "IPCEI Hy2Use."

The European Hydrogen Bank has been established, with ambitions to spend up to €3 billion in hydrogen technology, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's most recent State of the Union address.

"Hydrogen can be a game changer for Europe. It is key in diversifying our energy sources and helping us reduce our dependency on Russian gas. We need to bring this niche market to scale," he said.

"That is why we are creating a Hydrogen Bank. And we will also increase our financial participation in Important Projects of Common European Interest. This will help enabling breakthrough innovation and positive spill-overs for all of the EU economy and help power the economy of the future," he added.

"Most likely, this hydrogen bank will be needed to fill the gap between the production of energy from fossil fuels and the production of electric power through the use of hydrogen, which is a carrier that does not cause pollution," STRESS President Ennio Rubino told Euronews.

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