USW joins partners in green hydrogen production milestone

Baglan Hydrogen Centre. Cop26. SWIC partnership

The University of South Wales (USW) and green hydrogen company Protium, together with partner organisations Fuel Cell Systems Ltd and Enapter, have commenced operations to generate green hydrogen at Baglan Energy Park.

Commissioning Pioneer One marks a significant milestone in building a network of hydrogen generating facilities for the UK’s green hydrogen infrastructure. The project highlights the critical role green hydrogen can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industry.

This important milestone will help drive change, scale-up, and increase adoption of zero-emission green energy as part of the  drive to net-zero. As a fully-fledged operation, Pioneer One will produce green hydrogen without emitting greenhouse gases. This will displace up to 111 tonnes of CO2 per annum, which is equivalent to planting 4,440 trees, or covering 34 football fields with trees, or offsetting emissions of 113 London to New York return flights.

In 2022 Protium announced its partnership with USW to deploy its first 100kW electrolyser at the University’s Hydrogen Centre in Baglan, Neath Port Talbot. This is the UK’s largest AEM integrated electrolyser, sourced from award-winning design and manufacturing brand Enapter, which is responsible for developing the first scalable AEM electrolyser to generate electrolytic green hydrogen. Fuel Cell Systems Ltd, which designs, manufactures, and integrates hydrogen refuelling technologies, was responsible for integration, installation, and commissioning.

Development of Protium’s first hydrogen production facility has included design, site works, and equipment installation.

The installation and commissioning of the Hydrogen Production Facility (HPF) was this week finalised and it will start generating green fuel-cell grade hydrogen, with the first batch of green hydrogen filled storage containers (MCPS) now starting to roll off the production line.

Jon Constable, Chief Assets and Engineering Officer for Protium, said: “This is a landmark moment for the whole team that have made this happen at Protium, USW, FCSL and Enapter. As of the beginning of April we will have our first commercially-operating hydrogen production facility, capable of supplying green-hydrogen-filled containers to customers.

“We are proud to have reached this point where we can make decarbonisation happen for industry and can now focus on longer term plans to scale-up operations.”

Tom Chicken, CEO of Fuel Cell Systems Ltd, said: "This is a practical, working example of green hydrogen production in operation. The project partners have shown that hydrogen technologies are available now and can be implemented across industry. We are delighted to be a part of the decarbonisation solution."

Commenting on the collaborative venture and what this means for the ongoing development of the hydrogen economy in Wales, Professor Jon Maddy, Director of USW’s Hydrogen Centre, said: "The University of South Wales is dedicated to the development of clean hydrogen technologies, and we are delighted to work with Protium to deliver another first in hydrogen in the UK.

“Electrolytic hydrogen is critical to the transition to net-zero and Pioneer One is another important step on this important journey."

The facility can produce 40kg H2 per day, which gives Protium the capability to deliver hydrogen MCPs at a rate of 10 per week, ready to supply directly to customers for uses such as in vehicle trials, gen-sets and other smaller initial hydrogen operations. Customers will be able to collect filled cylinders of hydrogen from the Baglan facility.

Mr Constable added: “This is the largest AEM Enapter electrolyser deployment in the UK and, whilst this facility is currently on a small scale, it is designed to enable supply chain development and hydrogen training as we continue to develop larger facilities over the next five years.

“We have all gained many important learnings, and the project has facilitated hydrogen safety operations development, vital to the future operations of any electrolyser-based system in the UK.”

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