Wales & West Utilities trial hydrogen vehicles

Automotive and green energy developer First Hydrogen is deploying its first-of-its-kind fuel cell vehicle for operational trials with gas distribution network Wales & West Utilities. 

Starting this month, the trials will be supported by Protium Green Energy Solutions and Hyppo Hydrogen Solutions to develop a hydrogen ecosystem in South Wales to support the operations. 

First Hydrogen’s unique hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle (FCEV) will operate from WWU’s Swansea depot, as part of the business’ fleet of 1,300 vehicles, which are deployed across Wales and the south west of England. The FCEV will support network engineers to make customer call outs and undertake repair and maintenance work.

The FCEV is the first-of-its kind to be deployed in Wales. Wales & West Utilities provides gas supply and connections to more than 7.5 million customers in Wales and south west England. The gas distribution network is committed to developing cleaner and greener energy solutions and has recently announced a proposal to develop a major hydrogen pipeline across South Wales. The organisation is also exploring how hydrogen can be used to power homes and businesses across its region. 

Until now, First Hydrogen’s FCEV trials have been located near existing hydrogen fuel stations. This trial will demonstrate how partnerships can develop refuelling in areas that lack infrastructure. Using Hyppo Hydrogen Solutions’ refuelling service and green H2 fuel from Protium Green Solutions, enables WWU to refuel close to its depot in Swansea rather than travelling to a public station. Successful refuelling trials with First Hydrogen’s FCEV, Hyppo’s unit and Protium’s renewable hydrogen took place in December 2023. 

The green hydrogen supplied from Protium’s Pioneer 1 site in Wales is produced by electrolysis using renewable power. Pioneer 1 has been operational since early 2023 and the hydrogen it produces has already been used in several transport trials. Protium will have Pioneer 2, a second, significantly larger electrolyser, operational later in 2024 to meet the growing demand for green hydrogen in Wales and beyond.  

Steve Gill, CEO Automotive at First Hydrogen, says:

“We’re delighted to be working with Wales & West Utilities and, not only trial the vehicles in Wales, but also form partnerships that will establish a local hydrogen ecosystem. The Wales & West Utilities team are hugely supportive of our vehicle development and share our belief that hydrogen could help deliver carbon-free transport. Hydrogen is high on WWU’s corporate agenda, through laying pipelines and upgrading the network in preparation for transitioning and it is exciting to see that the whole company is engaged with our trial.  

“This trial will help us to learn a lot about moveable and depot-based refuelling solutions and how this technology could help bridge gaps in the UK’s refuelling infrastructure network. Ultimately, our role in developing a hydrogen ecosystem with partners will strengthen our service offering to fleets and accelerate hydrogen mobility adoption.” 

Stephen Offley, Transport Manager at Wales & West Utilities, says:

“We are confident that hydrogen will play a fundamental role in delivering low-cost green energy as we move away from fossil fuels. Hydrogen can be produced from renewables in the UK, as Protium is already demonstrating, and supplied through many of the gas pipelines that we already use.  

“We are already paving the way for the role of hydrogen in heating homes and powering industry so using hydrogen fuel to decarbonise our fleets is a logical step. Having test driven the vans at First Hydrogen’s MIRA track event last year, we’re looking forward to trialling the FCEV in our day-to-day operations and pioneering the use of hydrogen within our fleet. In demonstrating the practicalities of hydrogen, we want to inspire other industries and businesses in Wales and across the UK to view hydrogen as a realistic, operationally effective zero-emission solution.”  

Will Stinton, Director of Asset Management at Protium, comments:

“This trial with Wales & West Utilities is an excellent opportunity to showcase the capability of green hydrogen, produced renewably by electrolysis, in fleet operations. Our experience in supporting transport trials has shown us that fuel cell vehicles have an important role to play in meeting zero emission targets – it is fantastic to work with an organisation like Wales & West Utilities to explore how FCEVs can decarbonise their operation. Collaborations like these are critical to accelerating hydrogen deployment, and we’re excited to bring FCEVs to the roads in Wales with First Hydrogen and Hyppo Hydrogen Solutions.” 

Chris Foxall, CEO at Hyppo Hydrogen Solutions, says:

“This trial brings together the entire hydrogen value chain and is a testament to the power of working in partnership. Hyppo is already a fleet operator of fuel cell vehicles and is delighted to see the benefits of First Hydrogen’s FCEVs first-hand and to assist Wales & West Utilities with its move towards hydrogen transport.” 

Image courtesy of First Hydrogen.

Sign up for our essential
newsletter service.

Enter your details here.