First Hydrogen vehicle trial with Wales & West Utilities to create new fuel ecosystem

First Hydrogen is pleased to announce gas distribution network, Wales & West Utilities (WWU) will begin trials later this month of the company’s hydrogen fuel cell powered light commercial vehicle (“FCEV”).

First Hydrogen’s FCEV will operate from WWU’s Swansea depot, as part of the business’ 1,300 fleet vehicles, which are deployed across Wales and the southwest of England. The FCEV will support network engineers to make customer call outs and undertake repair and maintenance work. The trial will showcase the Company’s FCEV advantage over battery electric vehicles in range (630 km/400 mi), payload towing and fast refueling capabilities.

The FCEV is the first-of-its-kind to be deployed in Wales and supported by green hydrogen producer, Protium Green Solutions and hydrogen services company, Hyppo Hydrogen Solutions, which will help develop a hydrogen ecosystem to support WWU’s operations. Allied Market Research reports the global hydrogen vehicle market was valued at US$1.5 billion in 2022, and is projected to reach US$57.9 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 43%.

Wales & West Utilities provides gas supply and connections to more than 7.5 million customers in Wales and southwest England. The gas distribution network is committed to developing cleaner and greener energy solutions and has recently announced a proposal to develop a major hydrogen pipeline across South Wales.

Until now, First Hydrogen’s FCEV trials have been located near existing hydrogen fuel stations. This trial will demonstrate how partnerships can develop refuelling in areas that lack infrastructure. Using Hyppo Hydrogen Solutions’ mobile refuelling service and green H2 fuel from Protium Green Solutions, enables WWU to refuel close to its depot in Swansea rather than travelling to a public station.

Steve Gill, Head of Automotive at First Hydrogen, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Wales & West Utilities and not only trial the vehicles in Wales but also form partnerships that will establish a local hydrogen ecosystem. The Wales & West Utilities team are hugely supportive of our vehicle development and share our belief that hydrogen could help deliver carbon-free transport. Particularly for fleets that require longer uptime, longer range and heavier payloads than BEVs can offer as well as towing capacity – 75% of Wales & West Utilities’ fleet are equipped to tow yet few BEVs have suitable capability. Hydrogen is high on WWU’s corporate agenda, through laying pipelines and upgrading the network in preparation for transitioning and it is exciting to see that the whole company is engaged with our trial.”

Stephen Offley, Transport Manager at Wales & West Utilities, said: “We are confident that hydrogen will play a fundamental role in delivering low-cost green energy as we move away from fossil fuels. Hydrogen can be produced from renewables in the UK, as Protium is already demonstrating, and supplied through many of the gas pipelines that we already use. We are already paving the way for the role of hydrogen in heating homes and powering industry so using hydrogen fuel to decarbonise our fleets is a logical step. Having test driven the vans at First Hydrogen’s track event last year, we’re looking forward to trialling the FCEV in our day-to-day operations and pioneering the use of hydrogen within our fleet. In demonstrating the practicalities of hydrogen, we want to inspire other industries and businesses in Wales and across the UK to view hydrogen as a realistic, operationally effective zero-emission solution.”

Will Stinton, Director of Asset Management at Protium, commented: “This trial with Wales & West Utilities is an excellent opportunity to showcase the capability of green hydrogen, produced renewably by electrolysis, in fleet operations. Our experience in supporting transport trials has shown us that fuel cell vehicles have an important role to play in meeting zero emission targets – it is fantastic to work with an organisation like Wales & West Utilities to explore how FCEVs can decarbonise their operation. Collaborations like these are critical to accelerating hydrogen deployment, and we’re excited to bring FCEVs to the roads in Wales with First Hydrogen and Hyppo Hydrogen Solutions.”

Chris Foxall, CEO at Hyppo Hydrogen Solutions, said: “This trial brings together the entire hydrogen value chain and is a testament to the power of working in partnership. Hyppo is already a fleet operator of fuel cell vehicles and is delighted to see the benefits of First Hydrogen’s FCEV first-hand and to assist Wales and West Utilities with its move towards hydrogen transport.”