The new public access hydrogen refuelling station in Swindon, UK from ITM Power and Johnson Matthey is significant for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, and most obviously, it’s exciting for the local area (Swindon) because it will generate hydrogen gas onsite using only electricity and water, and allow users to refuel in just minutes before heading off on a potentially 350-mile range.
But it’s also significant for a variety of other, perhaps less overt reasons.
The station is the first of two in the UK to be deployed as part of the pan European H2ME2 project, an initiative which aims to be the first truly pan-European network of hydrogen refuelling stations. It’s also the seventh such station in the UK for ITM Power, and an addition that further opens up the M4 corridor for zero emission driving.
All of which can only be a good thing for the budding hydrogen economy.
Likewise, the collaboration on show at the station’s opening can only be a good thing. I wrote earlier this year that there exists a gravitas now in the hydrogen economy, with household names in the automotive industry publicly throwing their weight behind the cause. They are backing up the rhetoric.
I had also noted how a common goal or desire is evident now, to drive hydrogen forward as a future fuel. That’s why I think the opening of this station is significant; this was a launch supported by Toyota, Hyundai and Honda, with of course ITM Power and Johnson Matthey as the key proponents behind it. So many previous station openings, in my experience, have generally only involved one automotive partner. Here we had not one, but three.
Hydrogen as a fuel brings together energy and transport sectors, and we can clearly see here that this is not about competing technologies right now. There will be time for that later. A mutual desire exists in the here and now, and that can only be a good thing.
The other reason this is significant? Well, that’s an obvious one – the only emission from these vehicles is water vapour. Start with water, finish with water – that has to be a compelling pointer for the M4 corridor, the UK, Europe and beyond.