While the FCH JU project HYFIVE already delivered significant results and contributed to addressing major EU challenges, we are very pleased to see an important industry player joining the venture,’ said Bart BieBuyck, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) executive director. ‘The opening of Shell’s first station in the UK reinforces the industrial commitment towards decarbonisation.’
The stations are designed to power hydrogen fuel celled electric vehicles – which convert hydrogen into electricity, releasing only heat and water from the exhaust. Only one such car can be found in UK dealerships so far: the Toyota Mirai. However, the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell can also be seen in small numbers on UK roads, and a third car the Honda Clarity was recently delivered to a handful of prospective drivers, also as part of the HYFIVE project. Honda is one of five automakers that will deploy 185 fuel-cell vehicles to prospective drivers in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the UK.
Although hydrogen fuel cells still have a long way to go before there are enough refuelling stations and cars on the road to bring economies of scale, fuel cell industry shipments are already picking up. They grew by two-thirds in 2016 compared to 2015 levels, with transport-related fuel-cell capacity doubling to 280MW.
The hydrogen at Cobham services is generated on-site using an electrolyser, which is designed to use excess renewable energy from wind farms and sources, when they produce more than the country’s demand. The grid can tell the electrolyser when to activate, and the latter can start and stop in about half a second. In other words, no fossil fuel is required to produce the station’s hydrogen.
Whilst it’s the third hydrogen site in the UK to be supplied by ITM and the seventh hydrogen station in the country, it’s the first one to be opened on a motorway, and on a public forecourt.
Matthew Tipper, vice president of Future Fuels at Shell said, ‘Hydrogen has the potential to become a clean and versatile transport fuel for the future, and the Cobham hydrogen site is one of the ways Shell is encouraging the use of alternative fuels to contribute to the energy transition. This will provide customers with hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles the ability to refuel simply and quickly, at one of the largest petrol stations in the UK.’
The initiative has been partially funded by the FCH JU and the UK’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles. Shell is currently considering similar initiatives in Switzerland, Austria, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.