Hydrogen Infrastructure Development

The Strategic Build up of Hydrogen Refuelling Infrastructure

A number of existing factors make Wales a prime location for early adoption of hydrogen energy, including existing industrial hydrogen production capacity along the M4 corridor, a strong automotive sector and a large renewable energy resource.  However, there are a number of hurdles to overcome before hydrogen can be adopted as a clean fuel for daily use.

The University of South Wales is playing a leading role in the establishment of a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in the UK.  Wales’ first hydrogen fuelling station has been installed at the University’s Hydrogen Research Centre in Baglan, with the advantage that the hydrogen is produced on-site using renewably produced hydrogen.  In addition, the University has installed a second hydrogen fuelling station at the Glyntaff campus.  These provide the basis for hydrogen vehicle R&D and demonstration, for vehicles developed by the University and with industrial partners.

These developments are valuable in enabling initial vehicle development and demonstration, but the establishment of a full-scale refuelling infrastructure requires a major effort from government, finance sector and industry.  It is also clear that this cannot happen in Wales in isolation from activity in the rest of the UK or Europe.  In light of this, the University has played a significant role in advising the Welsh Government and UK government in this area and works closely with key industrial organisations in the initial stages of the development of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.

A significant example of this activity is the advisory role that the University played in the agreement between the Welsh and UK Government in the creation of the Low Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) centred on hydrogen technologies.  The LCEA has the aim of accelerating low carbon economic development activity, in this case the establishment of an alternative transport fuels corridor centred on theM4 and initially based on the University’s hydrogen refuelling facilities at Baglan and Glyntaff.

To underpin this advisory role, the University’s research in this area includes spatial, logistics traffic flow and technology-uptake modelling and mathematical optimisation.  In addition, the research activity covers the economic development of hydrogen production, storage and distribution technologies and will address the socio-economic aspects through collaborative effort with LCRI partners at Cardiff University and partners form the EPSRC SUPERGEN UK Sustainable Hydrogen Energy Consortium.  The aim of this research is to further inform decision makers and assist in the strategic planning for the development of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure including optimal transition paths.

In addition, the University’s expertise in this area is also used to advise the Welsh Government and the UK regions active in hydrogen technology via the “Bristol Accord”.  This co-ordination body engages with UK government and major automotive manufacturers to stimulate alternative fuel infrastructure development and vehicle testing and deployment.  The LCEA and Bristol Accord activity has already led to a major hydrogen refuelling project in Swindon, with the University playing a significant advisory role.

The University’s R&D and advisory activity in this area is therefore of major importance to the Welsh Assembly Government’s ambition to “build on existing skills and expertise to lead in the UK in hydrogen R&D and investment”. 


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