ITM Opens 7th UK Hydrogen Refueling Station

ITM Power opens seventh UK hydrogen refuelling station as carmakers prepare new model launches

Hyundai Nexo: Carmaker’s second hydrogen vehicle launching imminently. (Credit: Creative Commons/Alexander Migl)

ITM Power today officially opens its seventh public hydrogen refuelling station in Swindon. The eighth will follow at Gatwick within the next three months.

The Swindon station, funded under European and UK initiatives, uses renewable electricity and water to generate hydrogen on-site, negating the need for gas deliveries. It is sited at Johnson Matthey, which makes fuel cell technology and believes its catalysts can help enable large-scale production of hydrogen.

Carmakers Toyota, Hyundai and Honda are supporting the venture, with Hyundai set to launch its ‘Nexo’ hydrogen model in the UK “imminently”, according to president and CEO, Tony Whitehorn.

ITM chief executive, Graham Cooley, said the company and its partners were working with local businesses “to develop a significant FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) fleet around the new station.”

Electromechanically-derived hydrogen, while using relatively large amounts of power, is clean and does not require carbon capture and storage, which must be implemented in hydrogen production using steam methane reformation if it is to be considered low carbon. Some companies, such as Vattenfall, believe it is a significant part of the solution to decarbonise industry and transport.

Others think hydrogen via electrolysis could help balance the power system. For example, excess wind generation could be used to create hydrogen, which can then be used for transport, and potentially heat applications.

The UK government has committed to £1.5bn in funding for ultra-low emissions vehicles by 2020 and recently announced around £100 million of funding for innovators in ultra-low-emission vehicles and hydrogen technology.


Support Mechanism Focus needs to be on Transport & Heating

Eon boss: Renewable power is done, now for heat and transport

Michael Lewis: Decarbonising power ‘done’, heat and transport next.

Eon CEO Michael Lewis believes the UK has largely cracked decarbonisation of power generation and must concentrate on heat and transport, which is where he said the energy company will concentrate its efforts.

Speaking at Aurora’s Spring Forum, Lewis, who took the reins from Tony Cocker a year ago, applauded the policy stability of successive previous governments in delivering renewables.

“[Renewable generation] has been a huge success, but in many ways, that is already done,” said Lewis. While there are “some issues around intermittency” to solve, “we have [achieved] renewable, low and zero carbon generation at a lower price than conventional generation. Now we need to turn to transport and heating – and that is where Eon wants to play a key role.”

He said heat and transport are at a similar juncture to renewables “ten or eleven years ago” and pointed out that while the UK has succeeded in delivering almost 40GW of renewable generation, “success was far from a forgone conclusion back then”.

Lewis said in 2008, Eon had two offshore projects under construction, “both hugely over budget and late”. The firm had another two in operation, both beset by technical difficulties. Meanwhile, the London Array project “came that close to not going ahead, and would not have gone ahead unless government had moved to two Rocs”.

Giving offshore wind developers additional subsidy at that point, he suggested, was now bearing fruit in enabling the economies of scale that are leading to cost reductions.

“We were about to make an £800m investment decision and needed to know that the government stood behind us, which they did, and created a world class industry.”

That foresight should now be applied to decarbonising heat and transport, said Lewis, which is where Eon will focus more fully.

“We believe our capabilities are better deployed where there is still a problem to be solved,” he said, suggesting the starting point should be “making the existing system more efficient.”

Under the proposed Eon-RWE deal, it has been announced that Eon will focus primarily on retail and networks, with RWE taking on generation.

Speaking at the same conference, SSE boss Alistair Phillips-Davies said he “saw the SSE-Npower merger going forward and being unaffected by the RWE-Eon deal”.


UK “Sleep Walking” Into Waste Infrastructure Capacity Deficiency

UK “Sleep Walking” Into Waste Infrastructure Capacity Deficiency

The UK is “sleep walking” into a waste infrastructure capacity deficiency and is likely to “panic” later when it’s clear there is a problem, according to Biffa’s Ian Wakelin.

The comments come as Wakelin (left), joined by SUEZ’s David Palmer-Jones (right), opened this year’s RWM exhibition in the Keynote theatre.

The session offered an overview of the year in the waste & recycling sector, with former CIWM CEO-turned-consultant Steve Lee chairing the duo. He kicked off the discussion by asking what they want to see in the government’s forthcoming Waste & Resources Strategy.

One of Wakelin’s overarching messages from the session was that the UK doesn’t have the waste infrastructure capacity to deal with its own waste and that it currently doesn’t have the right mix. He said the UK has a deficit of energy from waste (EfW) capacity and that 13m tonnes of combustible waste that could be burnt for energy currently isn’t because the facilities aren’t there.

He said the UK will make substantial progress and predicted the capacity gap will half in the next ten years, assuming it continues to export refuse derived fuel (RDF). He said it’s vital UK government decides what it needs and “would like” in terms of the role of EfW and that it needs to offer clarity, which will then help build confidence and investment in those vital facilities.

Both agreed that the impact of the “Blue Planet effect”, in that it has increased public awareness of resources sustainability and single-use plastic waste, has changed public sentiment “beyond all recognition”, and that for the resources sector to not deliver on this would be “unacceptable” and a “failure”.

In terms of recycling, he said that without extended producer responsibility (EPR), UK recycling will go “virtually nowhere” and that the Chinese sword has been a “big wake up call”.

Palmer-Jones said that he was not interested in “tweeking” the current systems and what he wants is “systemic” change. He said the failing recycling market needs to be addressed, along with the lack of data, which is essential for government to implement future-policy. He said EPR, balance and “pull-mechanisms” are vital. He also said that local government funding needs to be right, as do food waste systems.

He reiterated Wakelin’s comments that the industry needs confidence to invest and this needs to come from government and policy. With regard to building confidence, he questioned why the sector has to wait for the government’s budget to find out the rise in landfill tax and offered that a calculator would help develop confidence in the long run.

Lee asked if a strong domestic market for secondary materials would be enough to stimulate recycling, to which Palmer-Jones said having these materials remain in the UK is better than sending them abroad and that potentially a virgin plastic tax could help increase demand for secondary materials.

Wakelin offered that he doesn’t believe the UK will ever be self-sufficient in terms of a secondary materials market because it doesn’t have the manufacturing in place for the use of these materials. He said, “ironically” the UK could do more with plastics because of the value of the finished product, but paper would be “challenging”.

Tackling Brexit and the impact on UK resource businesses, Palmer-Jones said that currently we don’t know what type of Brexit we will get, and that this raises questions, such as what the port situation will be like and how this may affect RDF exports. He also raised the issue of migrant labour in the sector and that, with what will presumably be a stem of freedom of movement post-Brexit, this may become a problem.

Wakelin said that Brexit is a “political failure” and probably won’t be good for the UK economy. “Anyone who doesn’t worry about Brexit is a fool,” he said. He also stated that if it comes to the point where RDF can’t leave the country then the only place for it is landfill.

Both agreed that the impact of the “Blue Planet effect”, in that it has increased public awareness of resources sustainability and single-use plastic waste, has changed public sentiment “beyond all recognition”, and that for the resources sector to not deliver on this would be “unacceptable” and a “failure”.


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"The industry is going to survive. It’s just a question of what format does it survive in," said APR Executive Director Steve Alexander.