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Current Hydrogen Activities

United Kingdom

In England and Scotland, the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (UKHFCA) and the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) are the main bodies facilitating hydrogen activities and promoting support for further research and development. Their emphasis is on representing the leading UK hydrogen and fuel cell companies as well as organisations from the academic community. Full list of company members can be found by clicking on the bracketed links.

The Cleaner Urban Transport for Europe (CUTE) Trial

Between 2004 and 2007, the city of London participated in the Cleaner Urban Transport for Europe (CUTE) trials as part of a worldwide demonstration that tested a fleet of zero-emission fuel cell buses in 9 cities across the globe. Transport for London (TfL)[8] operated 3 specially built Mercedes Citaro buses for 8 to 10 hours a day.

Bus Hydrogen-powered fuel cell (HFC) bus operating on a busy route in Central London

ITM Power

ITM Power is a company based in Sheffield that specialises in the design and manufacture of hydrogen energy systems for energy storage and clean fuel production. It runs a number of project trials and demonstrations aimed at getting its products into the commercial market.

In early 2011 ITM Power launched the field trials HOST - Hydrogen On Site Trials. This saw ITM power's self-contained Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) based electrolyser system HFuel, and 2 hydrogen internal combustion engine vans operating at third party sites for a set period of time. The programme to date has seen 21 commercial partners join from 7 different industry sectors including Scottish & Southern Electric, Enterprise and DHL[9].


ITM Power's HFuel unit displayed at the 4th World Hydrogen Technologies Conference in Glasgow generates hydrogen gas from water by electrolysis

SUPERGEN XIV - Delivery of Sustainable Hydrogen (DOSH2)

The ongoing SUPERGEN XIV research project brings together 12 of the leading universities in the UK - including the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Strathclyde, Birmingham and Newcastle - with the aim of improving the way hydrogen and hydrogen based fuels are produced and delivered. The research topic areas cover hydrogen production routes that make use of less energy than conventional processes.

The University of Birmingham Fuel Cell group

The University of Birmingham Fuel Cell group currently runs a number of demonstration projects in different areas to evaluate the benefits of using hydrogen technologies in real-life applications. One such area is the SCRATCH - Supply Chain Research Applied to Clean Hydrogen - which ran from May 2007 through till 2010.

Successful demonstrations include a hydrogen filling station, a hydrogen-powered house, 5 Microcab hydrogen fuel cell vehicles used to deliver university post and a hydrogen fuel cell CHP unit.

Fuel Cell

The University of Brimingham tested the feasibility of producing hydrogen in-situ in a Fuel Cell Combined Heat and Power unit (Photo courtesy of University of Birmingham Fuel Cell Group)

The Hydrogen Office

The Hydrogen Office project, set up by Business Partnership Ltd and funded by the Scottish Communities Renewable Household Initiative, exists to support the rapid development of renewable energy, hydrogen and fuel cell and energy storage industries in Scotland.

Based in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, the offices within the building are powered by an energy system incorporating a 750 kW wind turbine used to generate electricity for powering lightings and computers. Any excess electricity generated is also used to produce and store hydrogen from water for later use.

The Hydrogen Centre

The Hydrogen Centre is a research and development centre developed by the University of Glamorgan with part funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Its main function is to raise awareness of hydrogen as a clean and sustainable energy carrier with the potential to overcome the UK's dependence on imported energy.

European Union

In the last two decades interest in hydrogen and its use as a fuel has grown within the European Union (EU). This interest has led to the allocation of more funds for hydrogen research and demonstration projects in the region.

Under the second European Research Framework Programme (FP2, 1988-1992), the financial contribution towards research, development and demonstration on hydrogen and fuel cells was €8 million. This increased to €275 million under the Sixth European Research Framework Programme (FP6, 2002-2006). A full list can be found in the report.

Global Outlook

The major players include the USA, Germany and Asia. The US Department of Energy (DOE)[10] recently published a strategic plan for the research, development and demonstration of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, reiterating the North Americans' commitment to the use and implementation of hydrogen and fuel cells.

Germany is investing heavily in technology that will see it become the first country in the world with a nationwide hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. In Asia, coordinated efforts are ongoing, especially in the south-east regions, to expand and mass-produce the next generation of green vehicles and the accompanying infrastructure by 2015.

Market Drivers

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