BOC public access hydrogen refuelling station has entered its second year with an extended remit and increasing demand for its services.
The station was, in September 2011, an act of faith in the future of hydrogen transport. It was the first commercial-scale station in the UK and the first that could refuel vehicles at the two international standard pressures of 350 and 700 bar.
With consumers in mind, it was designed to look and operate like a conventional forecourt. A car like Honda’s fuel cell electric vehicle, the Clarity, can be refuelled in around three minutes.
The station shows what is already available in the market and it was meant to send out a signal to the wider transport marketplace. It represents a way to break a vicious circle, where consumers will not buy hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles if they cannot refuel them easily, while major fuel retailers will not put these facilities in while there are no cars available for the public to purchase. The BOC station, with state of the art Linde Group technology, can be easily deployed around the country and provides a model for the refuelling facilities that will be needed in the near future. Already, the Swindon station will act as a template for one in Aberdeen that will be fuelling the city’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered buses.
In its first year, Swindon has been visited by cars from Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Tata Motors, as well as Honda. As the Olympic Games began, it refuelled a number of hydrogen-powered London black cabs which were to take VIPs from Heathrow to the Olympic Village. The station’s ability to refuel multiple vehicles back-to-back, means the refuelling experience is no different from that currently undertaken at standard petrochemical forecourts.
On the forth of October, it will host the first European Road Tour, with seven hydrogen-powered vehicles – from Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Toyota – all taking advantage of the best refuelling facility in Britain.
And the next stage of the station’s evolution begins in October. A number of commercial vehicles and fork-lift trucks will start using it on a regular basis for refuelling and the station will produce its own ‘green’ hydrogen on-site using electricity generated by a photovoltaic array next to it.
BOC’s Swindon refuelling station continues to play a major role in ‘fuelling the future’.