Road-building project in Lancashire is testing hydrogen energy

At its National Highways A585 Windy Harbour to Skippool facility in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, Kier Highways is experimenting with a hydrogen-powered fuel cell.

This is the first deployment of a 110kVA hydrogen generator by Kier Highways, which is collaborating with Hydrologiq on this project.

This government-supported deployment intends to identify the practical difficulties of replacing diesel with hydrogen and to reduce carbon emissions, noise, vibration, and air pollution at the site.

Late in 2021, Hydrologiq obtained a funding from the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to deploy hydrogen generators on real-world sites across the United Kingdom.

The grant has three primary objectives: constructing a platform to streamline the planning and deployment of hydrogen generators; prototyping a monitoring system for any hydrogen generator; and testing these developments through real-world hydrogen generator deployments on live projects with partner businesses, including the construction industry.

Long-term replacement of a diesel generator comparable with this 110kVA generator might reduce CO2e emissions by 40 to 80 percent when fueled by grey hydrogen and by close to 100 percent when powered by green hydrogen.

Kier Highways has committed, as part of its One Planet Action Plan (OPAP), to attain net zero scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 2030. This is consistent with the Kier Group Sustainability Framework, Building for a Sustainable World, which establishes a net-zero emissions goal for all operations by 2045.

Matt Tompsett, head of environment and sustainability at Kier Highways, said: “Hydrogen is a key solution to the decarbonisation of both our fleet and plant. At Kier Highways, we have a target for all our fleet and plant to be running on alternative fuels by 2030. There is no silver bullet to this issue and there won’t be one alternative fuel solution.

“Whilst we are transitioning our small fleet and plant to electric, we recognize hydrogen is currently the most viable solution to larger fleet, plant and generators. The trial of this hydrogen generator is an important step on this journey, helping the ‘proof of concept’”, expelling myths, and engaging our employees who will use the new equipment and technology.”

Hydrologiq is a British startup that connects end users with their network of hydrogen fuel and technology suppliers in order to provide off-grid hydrogen.

Benjamin Lindley, director at Hydrologiq, said: “Hydrologiq exists to help businesses like Kier Highways make a tangible move towards Net Zero in off-grid power. Currently there are many challenges to overcome when deploying a hydrogen-powered generator on an active project. I’d like to thank our supplier partners and everyone on the Hydrologiq team who worked on compliance, logistics, and commissioning to facilitate Kier’s access to this new and complex technology.

“We are grateful for the support of Kier Highways for their enthusiasm, interest, and professionalism. From senior environmental management and project managers, through to works managers and ground workers, the entire team at the Windy Harbour site have played a major role in making this deployment a success.”