Home » Costain to lead research on hydrogen refuelling stations

Costain to lead research on hydrogen refuelling stations

by Mark Cantrell
A CGI rendering of Liverpool's new hydrogen bus

Wales & West Utilities (WWU) has selected Costain to lead a study exploring how hydrogen refuelling stations can be integrated into the UK’s existing gas network.

The research, funded by Ofgem, will explore the potential of using the UK’s natural gas network – which provides energy to homes, businesses, and large industry – as hydrogen fuelling infrastructure in anticipation of increased demand for zero emissions vehicles.

Specifically, the research will consider infrastructure solutions that increase the viability of hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). These low emission vehicles could be a sustainable alternative to traditional petrol and diesel vehicles, thanks to hydrogen having a similar refuelling process.

The technology is said to offer advantages for heavy-duty vehicles, which typically have high daily mileage and limited refuelling windows.

The study is part of a WWU initiative called HyDrive, which seeks to address the lack of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure across Wales and the South West of England.

Matthew Hindle, head of net zero and sustainability at Wales and West Utilities, added: “HyDrive is a hugely important initiative for us as we seek to reduce carbon emissions across Wales and the South West of England. Having successfully trialled a hydrogen van earlier this year, one of the challenges was the lack of hydrogen refuelling in the area.

“The trial required us to set up a bespoke hydrogen refuelling eco-system and clearly highlighted the need for permanent infrastructure if FCEVs are to become a reality. HyDrive will help identify the ways in which our extensive gas network could support hydrogen refuelling in the future.

“For this project we were seeking a partner who could demonstrate an immediate, detailed understanding of our requirements, complete with a relevant portfolio of experience.

“Costain ticked all boxes. The lack of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is not confined to our region and we’re optimistic the project will produce a model which can be used by the broader industry and accelerate the sector’s complicated but pressing road to net zero.”

Costain’s researchers will consult key regional stakeholders to understand current road transport demands, model and forecast future demands on the network, and recommend potential locations where existing petrol stations could be converted to hydrogen refuellers.

The report’s insights into the economics of implementing the technology, and how it will impact consumers in a future transition, will point the way for gas distribution networks to work with hydrogen producers and refuelling infrastructure providers to help deliver demonstrable long-term savings for consumers as part of the energy transition.

Laura Hughes, energy sector director at Costain, said: “Hydrogen will play an important role in the UK’s decarbonisation and energy transition ambitions. Through its HyDrive initiative, Wales & West Utilities is leading the way, and our research will help improve understanding of the hurdles which need to be overcome to make hydrogen-powered vehicles a reality.

“Costain has a rich catalogue of expertise in this field and a deep understanding of how to handle hydrogen safely. This will ensure the report is grounded in practical implementation and ultimately delivers robust, actionable findings”.

Image credit: Liverpool City Region

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