First Hydrogen’s 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 trial will showcase First Hydrogen’s FCEV advantage over battery electric vehicles in range (630 km/400 mile), payload towing and fast refuelling capabilities.
The FCEV is the first-of-its kind to be deployed in Wales. The ground-breaking trials are supported by green hydrogen producer, Protium Green Solutions and hydrogen services company, Hyppoi Hydrogen Solutions, which will help develop a hydrogen ecosystem to support WWU’s operations.
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.
Creating a hydrogen ecosystem
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.
WWU engineers currently take their vans home to minimise driven mileage and maximise operational efficiency; however, relatively few engineers have access to off-street parking suitable for a van and the ability to charge a battery electric van at home. This is not required by the hydrogen-powered vehicle.
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, Chief Executive Automotive at First Hydrogen, said: “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. Particularly for fleets that require longer uptime, better range and heavier payloads than BEVs can offer as well as towing capacity – 75% of Wales & West Utilities’ fleet are equipped to tow yet few BEVs have suitable capability. 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.”