Cheshire East Council has won consent to build a £1m green hydrogen vehicle refuelling facility, operated by Northwich-based energy firm Storengy and slated to be the first of its kind in the North West.
The facility, to be installed at Cheshire East’s environmental hub in Middlewich, is intended to contribute to the council’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025.
It works by producing hydrogen in an environmentally friendly manner, using an electrolyser connected to solar panels to provide clean hydrogen fuel that will then be pumped into dual-fuel bin collection wagons within the council’s fleet.
Under the plans, an initial two vehicles – one owned by the council and the other by Storengy – will be converted to use the home-produced green hydrogen, reducing the council and Storengy’s diesel use by an estimated 10,000 litres or more per year.
If the trial is successful, the scheme will be rolled out more widely across the council’s operations from 2021.
The hydrogen generation, storage and refuelling station is to be be constructed on the 14-acre site of Cheshire East’s environmental hub waste collection site, which is bounded by Cledford Lane, Faulkner Drive, Trent and Mersey Canal and Booth Lane, and land owned by British Salt to the south.
The scheme is funded with a £345,000 grant from the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund, and further private sources.
Cllr Quentin Abel, Cheshire East’s climate change champion, said: “This trial using hydrogen is important as…moving to cleaner fuels, such as hydrogen, will help towards combatting the increasing climate change crisis.
“It will also bring benefits locally through improved air quality – another strategic goal of our environment strategy.”
Storengy is part of European energy giant Engie Group. It owns and operates the UK’s largest underground gas storage facility, near Middlewich.
Storengy’s managing director Michael Gibson said: “With planning permission now granted, we are one step further in demonstrating that hydrogen is viable green fuel for transport.
“[This] project will develop the first of its type in the UK, and support improvements to Cheshire East Council’s carbon footprint and air quality.”