Geography KS3 / GCSE: Hydrogen house in Gothenburg, Sweden

Ade Adepitan visits a special house in Gothenburg, which is powered by converting excess summer sun into hydrogen.

He meets Hans-Olof Nilsson, who runs a renewable energy company with his colleague Martina Wettin. Hans-Olof built the house to showcase what his company can do.

By converting excess summer sun into hydrogen, Hans-Olof can store enough power to get through winter.

This clip is taken from the BBC Two series, Climate Change: Ade on the Frontline.

Teacher Notes

Before watching the film

You might want to recap the issue of climate change, the need to mitigate the effects at a global scale by reducing our carbon emissions, and list some of the ways that this might be done.

As well as using less energy in our everyday lives, we also need to think about how we can replace fossil fuels with sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, tidal and geothermal (for example). It could be useful to discuss and clarify examples of renewable and non-renewable energy.

After an initial discussion about this, you could ask students what a house of the future might look like in terms of energy sources and identify some key features. It could be worth considering the relevance of location at this point and asking students how landscape, terrain and local climate might influence the sustainable energy choices.

During the film

You may wish to stop at relevant points during this short film to pose questions and check understanding or wait until the end. Useful questions might include:

  • Why doesn’t Sweden get much sun in the winter months?
  • How is the surplus energy from summer sun stored?
  • How is energy generated in the winter months?
  • What are the ingredients of this energy source? (sun and water.)
  • What else can this hydrogen energy technology be used for?
  • What do students think about this technology?

You might have a discussion about zero carbon emissions, its versatility in providing energy for houses, cars, buses, etc. The beauty of being able to store energy from sunny days to dark days and how the elements of sun and water are freely available. You may also want to discuss the cost of the system technology, the space needed for the storage of hydrogen, and whether this would be realistic in a built-up city environment?

Following on from the film

You could ask students to return to their original ideas about a house for the future and identify a chosen list of features, including renewable energy sources, and a rationale about why they were chosen. The house should have a specific location, this could be the locality in which students live or it could be a locality in another country, and a given context such as urban or rural. Students could then explain how their house is particularly suited to its location.

You could discuss with students how carbon emissions can be reduced even if using a system that relies on fossil fuels, and recap why reducing energy use matters. Students might set up an energy review of their school and investigate savings inside and on the campus following a mapped audit of energy use.

Students could be asked to prepare a presentation making a case for the adoption of the sun and water fuelled technology seen in the film clip, or another type of sustainable energy for their school. They will need to argue their case as to why their renewable-energy approach was chosen and how it is more effective than other options.

Students could consider the importance of locational aspects. For example, if advocating solar panels, which direction do the roofs face; if wind turbines, what is the average wind speed on site and where is the best location? How close are neighbours to the school? How much outside space does the school have? Students could consider all these aspects in making their recommendations.

In 2020, Europe announced a new hydrogen strategy to help the continent achieve carbon neutrality. Students could research more about this and give a short presentation about what it means.

Cuirriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching KS3 and KS4 students. It can be used alongside the other Ade Adepitan films about climate change or watched on its own. It is a useful follow up to watching the clip about the CopenHill power station in Copenhagen that runs on waste.

All the films build on students’ understanding of climate change issues and enable them to make global connections.

This film supports the KS3 geography curriculum through learning more about energy and sustainable living.

At KS4 this supports work on energy and sustainable resource management.

This clip could be used to support the delivery of geography to KS3 and KS4 students. Specifically, this topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

More from Climate Change: Ade on the Frontline

Peatlands in Sweden
Sustainable power in Copenhagen, Denmark
Rising temperatures in Svalbard