Last week marked the first-ever European Hydrogen Week, organised by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), of which Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) is a member. FCH JU ran over 100 hydrogen-related projects across Europe and over the last five days have run a series of events to examine the role of hydrogen in EU’s aim to be become carbon neutral by 2050.

Closer to home, the SWLEP has been working in partnership with OxLEP, GFirst LEP, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and West of England LEP, exploring ways to encourage our residents and businesses to embrace more hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles. As part of the project, we have been exploring three hydrogen projects:

  • a Hydrogen Network, co-located with a large local solar farm to enable green hydrogen production via electrolysis, as well as hydrogen use on and off site; this has received funding from South West Energy Hub in October 2020 to progress to a feasibility study;
  • a Hydrogen Logistics project, which is expected to demonstrate that a large distribution centre can form the basis of a financially viable hydrogen refuelling station in conjunction with a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell forklift trucks, acting as a catalyst for wider use of hydrogen in transport, such as: heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) that serve the distribution centre, vans that make local deliveries from the distribution centre and other vehicles via public access.
  • a Hydrogen Inter-City Bus project, looking at how hydrogen buses can complement electric buses by covering routes that involve longer distance. This could be the first demonstrator for fuel cell inter-city bus deployment in the UK and the learning from this project can be made available to facilitate a national roll-out of long distance zero emission buses.

Aside from the hydrogen projects outlined above, the SWLEP’s Local Industrial Strategy incudes our response to the Clean Growth Grand Challenge and the transition to a low-carbon economy.  It covers the development of a clean, flexible and resilient energy system, removing grid capacity constraints, as well as developing an Innovation Campus for the Circular Economy.

Please get in touch if you would like to find out more or get involved.