Wales & West Utilities continues to drive hydrogen vehicle ambition

  • Wales & West Utilities recently announced a project to explore how hydrogen refuelling stations could be integrated into the existing gas network, providing fuel for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs).
  • One of the primary barriers of widespread Hydrogen Fuel Cell EV adoption is the lack of refuelling infrastructure.
  • HyDrive will look at future transport demands and compare it with gas network demands to map locations that could be well suited to a hydrogen refueller connected to the gas grid.

Wales & West Utilities (WWU) recently announced plans to explore how hydrogen refuelling stations could be integrated into the existing gas network, providing fuel for Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles.

WWU maintains a fleet of over 1400 vehicles, many of which currently rely on fossil fuels to meet their high energy demands. It is likely that hydrogen FCEV technology will fill the zero-emission capability gap that currently exists in the high energy consumption sector, providing an operationally effective and efficient way of reaching net zero targets.

One of the main barriers that the HyDrive project seeks to address is the lack of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure across Wales and the south west of England.

The company recently took part in a hydrogen van trial, using First Hydrogen’s prototype hydrogen 3.5 tonne FCEV in a first-line response role. A portable refuelling station was used as part of the project, provided by Hyppo Hydrogen Solutions with green hydrogen produced by Protium Green Solutions’ Pioneer One electrolyser in Baglan, Swansea.

The HyDrive project will be delivered in three stages:

  • Mapping current and anticipated transport demands and linking this to anticipated gas and electricity grid constraints.
  • Forecasting the potential for increases in transport-related hydrogen demand and the resulting impact on the gas network, plus the shift in future behaviours as HGV/high-energy usage vehicle fleet operators respond to government mandated targets.
  • Analysis of adding a viable network connection to support hydrogen vehicle refuelling, including pressure tier connections and any additional upgrades.

Once the modelling is complete, the study will choose suitable locations based on existing public and private stations which could be converted to a hydrogen refueller.

Head of Net Zero & Sustainability, Matt Hindle, said: “Whilst the gas network has traditionally provided energy for homes, commercial business and large industry, it could also play a role in providing low-carbon power to vehicles and supporting decarbonisation in the transport sector.

“Like many operators, WWU is considering which technologies can be used to meet our net zero targets, whilst still delivering operational efficiency. If we are to seriously consider hydrogen FCEVs as part of the solution, then we need to be able to access the appropriate refuelling infrastructure across our region.

“As well as identifying potential locations, HyDrive will explore the cost implications of supporting this technology and how it will impact consumers in a future transition.”

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night.

Wales & West Utilities is investing £400m between 2021 and 2026 in the gas network, supporting the journey to Net Zero. By 2035, it aims to deliver a Net Zero ready network to the areas most likely to convert to hydrogen, transforming our entire network by 2040.

The company is also committed to playing its part in getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It has 54 power stations connected to its network to support renewables like wind and solar power, while 21 green gas sites have capacity to inject enough decarbonised green gas to meet the demand of around 151,000 homes. The network supplies bus garages in three locations across the south west of England, fuelling CNG buses that improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions from public transport.