The UK has just opened its first hydrogen (H2) refuelling station to be situated on a forecourt as Britain moves another step closer to zero-carbon motoring.

The new station has been supplied through a partnership between energy storage and clean fuel company ITM Power and multinational oil and gas corporation Shell. It is the first of three H2 stations that the latter plans to open in the UK this year.

Located at Cobham services near London, the station is ITM Power’s fourth public H2 refuelling station to be opened in the UK and complements those already in operation around the country’s capital. Overall, the new station brings the UK’s total to seven.

The H2 is generated onsite using electrolysis. The Cobham station has been opened as part of the HyFive project, partially funded by the European Fuel Cell, Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, and the UK’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

The Linde Group and its UK subsidiary BOC supplied the compression and dispensing system for the site.

Dr. Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM-Power, said his company was thrilled to bring Shell’s first forecourt H2 fuelling site to life and enthused, “Electrolytic H2 is the cleanest and lowest cost renewable fuel available for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). We look forward to working with Shell to introduce additional H2 stations on their forecourts in the UK in the near future.”

Matthew Tipper, Vice-President, Future Fuels at Shell, signified, “H2 has the potential to become a clean and versatile transport fuel for the future. This will provide H2 FCEVs the ability to refuel simply and quickly, at one of the largest petrol stations in the UK.”

Significant step

The inauguration of this site follows successful site openings for Shell in California, and in Germany where the oil giant is part of a joint venture to open a network of up to 400 H2 sites by 2023.

The corporation is also in the process of assessing the potential of future projects in the US, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, France and Benelux.

Sinead Lynch, Shell’s UK Country Chair, highlighted, “We believe the journey to a low-carbon economy requires a coordinated and collaborative approach among organisations in the transport sector, including providers of energy and transport vehicles, users of transport vehicles, local authorities as well as government.”

“The Cobham retail site is a small but significant first step toward developing infrastructure needed for increased usage of H2 vehicles,” Lynch added.