For the launch ceremony a business consortium who designed and commissioned the facility, including BOC and Honda, joined Swindon's Mayor Cllr Teresa Page, and saw a demonstration of 'green' hydrogen production and low carbon hydrogen transport in action.
The event was a highlighted as a celebration of several significant 'firsts': In a UK first, this facility will produce commercial volumes of hydrogen produced from solar power, by electrolysis, at the point of use. In addition, the station will employ BOC's filling technology to serve a range of uses including the world's first hybrid vans running on sustainable biodiesel and hydrogen, the UK's first hydrogen powered fork-lift trucks - and even a hydrogen-powered Education Centre on the site.
The new facility has been integrated into the existing hydrogen refuelling station, which opened in September 2011. It is hoped that this facility will be a benchmark for other refuelling stations to follow as well as reinforce the UK's attractiveness as a location for major car manufacturers to roll out fuel cell vehicles and encourage the growth of a national refuelling infrastructure.
The Consortium, which comprises BOC, Honda, Commercial Group, Swindon Borough Council, Fuel Cell Systems, Briggs Equipment and Revolve, worked together to secure funding from the Technology Strategy Board, now called Innovate UK. Their efforts have highlighted the UK's leadership in environmental technologies using hydrogen. The Consortium point out that hydrogen is a low carbon energy source that offers energy security, employment opportunities and economic growth.
Jason Smith, Director at Honda of the UK Manufacturing, said: "This project is absolutely aligned with Honda Motor's Environmental Vision: Striving to realise the joy of freedom of mobility and a sustainable society where people can enjoy life. Through this project we, as a consortium, have made great advances in proving the commercial viability of truly 'green' hydrogen for a wide range of applications. We at Honda here in Swindon feel extremely privileged to be a part of this consortium and to host the facility on our site."
Simon Graham, Environmental Strategist at Commercial Group, said: "For the UK to meet our air quality and carbon targets, it is essential that we find new ways to deliver the goods and services that the economy depends on. Using hydrogen produced from sunlight to power vehicles has the potential to help solve both environmental challenges. Commercial is proud to be part of this consortium that is demonstrating that this solution is no dream but a reality"
Honda and BOC are both members of the HyFive project which aims to create clusters of refuelling station networks in three parts of Europe. The BOC facility is Swindon is an inclusive part of this network.
Last month the Government announced that the arrival of hydrogen cars on UK roads was a step closer as the Business Minister Matthew Hancock announced up to £11 million of funding to help establish an initial network of up to 15 hydrogen refuelling stations by the end of 2015. The funding includes £2 million of funding for public sector hydrogen vehicles. Of the £11 million, £7.5 million will come from government and £3.5 million from industry:
Speaking in Japan on 9th October where he met executives at Honda, Nissan and Toyota, Mr Hancock said: "Britain has become one of the best places in the world to build cars, with the value of those we export outstripping imports for the first time in a generation, but we want to go further.
"Hydrogen cars present us with a huge economic opportunity and can bolster our internationally renowned automotive industry. We want to make the UK one of the best places in the world to design, manufacture and sell ultra-low emission vehicles. Government will work in true partnership with industry so the potential benefits are realised by businesses and consumers across the UK."