The UK's first completely renewable solar-powered hydrogen refueling station has been launched in Swindon

First sun-powered hydrogen refuelling station opens in UK

A hydrogen refuelling station using energy from the Sun to drive electrolysis to produce hydrogen for fuel cell powered cars has been launched in Swindon.

Taking sustainability to the next level, the station, located at Honda’s UK manufacturing site, will produce clean and renewable hydrogen using clean and renewable power, minimising the overall carbon footprint of fuel cell cars.

A joint project of several technology companies including Honda, Fuel Cell Systems, Revolve Technologies and the Linde Group, the facility is an expansion of an existing site opened in Swindon in 2011.

“This enhancement to our refuelling station clearly positions this facility as the best in class in the UK,” said Nick Rolf, Innovation Manager for hydrogen systems at BOC, a member of the Linde Group.

“No other facility in the UK has the capacity to refuel vehicles with ‘green‘ high purity hydrogen on a commercial scale and this now cements Swindon’s position as the key location for fuel cell vehicle introduction.”

Honda, which provided room for the refuelling station inside its Swindon manufacturing facility, is a pioneer in fuel-cell vehicle technology. The company started commercial production of its hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity model in 2007. Since the beginning of its experiments with fuel-cell cars, Honda reportedly managed to reduce the manufacturing cost of a single vehicle from more than $1m to somewhere around $120,000 and $140,000 per vehicle.

The car was only brought to the UK in 2010 but the complete lack of refuelling stations in the country hindered the public interest.

“This project is absolutely aligned with Honda Motor’s Environmental Vision: Striving to realise the joy of freedom of mobility and a sustainable society where people can enjoy life,” said Jason Smith, Director at Honda of the UK Manufacturing. “Through this project we, as a consortium, have made great advances in proving the commercial viability of truly ‘green’ hydrogen for a wide range of applications.”

Earlier this month the UK government outlined its intentions to boost development of infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell powered cars with a £11m pool of funding. The funding will go towards building new and upgrading existing refuelling stations.

In addition to being completely emission-free, hydrogen fuel cell cars can be refuelled in as little as five minutes – a major advantage over more popular electric vehicles and their charging times.

Earlier this year, Honda's Japanese rival Toyota unveiled a fuel-cell powered sedan that is expected to enter the market in the UK and US in the summer of 2015.

The new refuelling station in Swindon will employ BOC’s filling technology to serve a range of uses including the world’s first hybrid vans running on sustainable biodiesel and hydrogen, the UK’s first hydrogen powered fork-lift trucks - and even a hydrogen-powered Education Centre on the site.

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