The UK’s first open access hydrogen vehicle refuelling station officially opens today (20 September) at Honda’s manufacturing facility in Swindon.
Built and operated by industrial gases company BOC, a member of The Linde Group, the venture is the result of a partnership between Honda, BOC and economic development company Forward Swindon.
The new station is open to anyone developing or using hydrogen-powered vehicles. It can fill vehicles at both 350 bar and 700 bar, the two standard filling pressures adopted by the world’s major vehicle manufacturers.
Hydrogen has huge potential as a sustainable transport fuel, creating no emissions other than water vapour. While all the major vehicle manufacturers are developing hydrogen-powered models, there are few refuelling facilities available to users. Consumers will not purchase hydrogen vehicles without being confident that there will be a refuelling network; yet the big fuel companies will not invest in new facilities while there are no hydrogen cars on the road.
The Swindon station aims to break this impasse by providing a glimpse of the future, while creating a strategic link half way along the M4 between London and Swansea. As a fully operational, commercial-scale station using tested technology, it is a solution that can be replicated across the country and so create the essential network necessary for the widespread uptake of hydrogen-powered transport.
Among the many innovations of the new station is that it can fill vehicles ‘back-to-back’ from a bank of hydrogen cylinders. This means that vehicles can be filled one after another without having to wait for more hydrogen to be generated.
Another feature is the design: it looks just like a conventional filling station and the time to fill a vehicle is comparable with conventional fuels. The Honda FCX Clarity for example takes less than five minutes. For the consumer, then, the experience should be very similar to refuelling at a normal petrol station.
Also present at the unveiling are a range of different types of vehicles, from passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to an ambulance, a taxi and a London bus – all fuelled by hydrogen. Hydrogen is finding applications across the entire automotive sector.
Speaking at the opening of the facility, Richard Kemp-Harper, Lead Technologist for Transport and Energy at the Technology Strategy Board, said: "The change from conventional transport systems to sustainable, low carbon alternatives is one that can only be made through businesses and government working in partnership to develop innovative solutions. This new refuelling station gives a real glimpse of the role hydrogen can play in practice. It is a great example of the kind of collaboration and innovation we need."
Mike Huggon, Managing Director of BOC in the UK and Ireland, said: "This is the first commercial-scale, open-access station in the UK. It demonstrates that we can build the infrastructure needed to establish a hydrogen-powered transport system. But even with private and public support – as we have here in Swindon – we need Government commitment to make this work across the country as a whole. We can provide the tools but the Government has to create the policy framework in which we can build the low carbon infrastructure of tomorrow."
Ian Piper, Chief Executive of economic development company Forward Swindon, said: "I’m proud that we have been involved in such an exciting public-private partnership. Forward Swindon was the initiator of this project and brought together the funding: it’s a great example of how innovative projects can come to life in the UK, even in a recession. Swindon’s strategic location makes it the natural home for new transport technologies, and I’m confident this facility will encourage a growing interest and take up."
Thomas Brachmann, Head of Electrical Powertrain R&D at Honda, commented: "Hydrogen fuel cell technology is the ultimate transport solution; meeting environmental demands but also delivering the range and performance that customers expect. The cooperation on this project between vehicle manufacturers like Honda, infrastructure providers like BOC and the public sector can be a blueprint for future development."
The Hydrogen Refuelling Station is situated at the Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) site in South Marston, Swindon. It is operated by BOC with support from Honda.
The station has been funded by industrial gases company BOC, as well as through money provided by the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) administered by Forward Swindon, and by Honda UK.
The refuelling station is based on a model deployed by BOC’s parent, The Linde Group, at over 70 other locations around the world. The Linde Group is a world leader in clean energy technologies and engineering.
For more information, contact:
Simon Napper, BOC Communications: Tel: 07500 815166. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Julia Falcon, Forward Swindon. Tel: 07768 806 319. Email: JuliaFalcon@forwardswindon.co.uk
Kate Saxton, Honda (UK). Tel: 07793 903157. Email: Kate.Saxton@honda-eu.com