The Hydrogen Project - more information

Use of hydrogen in the UK

Hydrogen is increasingly used for transport across the world, especially in northern Europe. In the UK, the use is increasing – currently there are 12 hydrogen refuelling stations. These are mainly in the south of England. Our project will be the first ‘green’ hydrogen refuelling station in the north west of England, although it is not open to the public.

There are an increasing number of councils using hydrogen powered refuse collection vehicles, including Fife and Westminster. Aberdeen are currently using hydrogen powered buses.

Our hydrogen project

The project will run for three years, during which time we will evaluate the success to inform our approach to hydrogen in future. We will also be keeping an eye on any developments in electric vehicle technology to see if they can be used at the Environmental Hub. The equipment will be on the south side of the Environmental Hub, below the existing fuelling area. This has suitable clearances around it and is shielded from sight by a neighbouring building.

Only oxygen will be vented from the electrolyser, and the exhaust from the vehicles will be water vapour while they are using hydrogen.

Source of hydrogen

The project makes its own hydrogen at the Environmental Hub through an electrolyser, using electricity from solar panels from one of our buildings and water. This ‘green hydrogen’ is an environmentally friendly way to make the hydrogen, and means it will not be transported onto site.

Safety of using hydrogen 

All fuels need to be treated with respect and handled subject to a specified code of practice. Hydrogen is not considered more hazardous than other vehicle fuels, and we will comply fully with all regulations and be subject to scrutiny from regulatory agencies.

The main differences compared to other fuels are that hydrogen is lighter (meaning it will dissipate quickly when ventilated) and is odourless and colourless. The equipment will be specifically designed for a high level of ventilation, and will include sensors to detect any leaks. As with other fuels, all equipment will be designed to avoid ignition sources.

We have trained our staff to be able to use hydrogen safely and our engineers to maintain the vehicle conversions. Storengy UK will ensure the hydrogen equipment is maintained, and are on hand to respond if necessary. As with other fuel storage, the fire brigade will be notified of this project and will regularly inspect the Environmental Hub.

The cost of the hydrogen project

This is a pilot project so there are additional costs for the hydrogen equipment. This is being covered by a grant through the Local Enterprise Partnership and contributions from Storengy UK. We will pay for an additional refueller and invest in solar panels which will be used by the project for three years, after which they will benefit the Environmental Hub.

Day to day, the project will make a saving on diesel costs and gain a payment through the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) which will cover any additional costs for energy use, training, and maintenance during the project.

Project partners

With Ansa, we have partnered with Storengy UK, who are industry experts on hydrogen. They will provide the technical expertise on hydrogen and maintain the equipment which has been supplied by Logan Energy and Ulemco. The Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership has also provided funds.

Further information

There are a good sources of information on hydrogen at  UK Hydrogen Fuel Association or Hydrogen London.

If you would like any further information then please email: carbonneutral@cheshireeast.gov.uk.