Swindon’s place as a national centre for hydrogen powered car technology was celebrated by Hydrogen Hub at Lydiard House recently with a conference and showcasing of the various hydrogen vehicles that are currently available.
Among the vehicles to line up outside the building were two hydrogen-powered Hyundai iX35 SUVs from local Swindon dealership, Pebley Beach. Meanwhile, inside, business leaders heard about Swindon’s ambition to be a pioneer in trialling the new technology widely expected to replace petrol engines and diesel in the future.
According to Pebley Beach, the tanks of hydrogen vehicles – which use the gas to charge a battery – can be refilled in five minutes or less, and offer a range of “hundreds of miles.” Swindon already has one hydrogen refuelling station at the Honda manufacturing plant and a second, near Junction 16 off the M4, will be installed soon.
The conference gave Swindon business leaders the chance to hear from other local companies that are already using hydrogen vehicles. The conference heard from National Trust procurement specialist, Steve Harland, who said the conservation charity has an “ambitious target” to halve its dependency on fossil fuels by 2020 and claimed that being part of Swindon Hydrogen hub fitted in with its intention of investing in renewable technology.
Steve explained, “as the infrastructure develops, with more hydrogen refuelling stations across the UK, we’ll be able to use our hydrogen iX35 to travel to and from an ever increasing number of our sites. In the first three months of having the car, nine of our staff have clocked up 1,500 miles, and they’ve all given positive feedback.”
Clare Jackson, programme manager for the Hydrogen Hub, said it was the group’s intention to make Swindon “a hydrogen economy”. According to Clare, a new £23m grant scheme has been announced from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to fund new fuelling stations and business fleets. Up to 75 percent of the cost of a hydrogen-powered vehicle could be met by government funding, and interested businesses were invited to submit their applications through the Hub.
Pictured above: The lineup of hydrogen-powered cars outside Lydiard House