Scotland to the fore as hydrogen fuel firm rolls out £1 billion refuelling network

A hydrogen fuel specialist is rolling out an ambitious £1 billion investment programme, with a strong Scottish focus, as it aims to become the UK’s largest hydrogen retailer.

Private equity-backed Element 2 has a ten-year plan to roll out a refuelling network, involving the installation of 2,000 hydrogen pumps across the UK by 2030.

The firm aims to establish a supply chain and customer base in Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow, and is engaged in talks with several local authorities, transport operators and fleet owners to formalise “sustainable and cost-effective partnerships”.

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Led by serial entrepreneur and former European Space Agency engineer Tim Harper, and fuel cells and hydrogen technology expert Brendan Bilton, Element 2 plans to establish more than 250 pumps in Scotland over the next six years, increasing this figure to 300 by 2030.

Element 2 chief executive Tim Harper: 'Scotland has been an early adopter of hydrogen in transport'

Due to its volume, hydrogen fuel is not well suited to short-distance passenger vehicles but the renewable energy source is seen as being ideal for larger vehicles, such as haulage lorries and bus and coach fleets. A handful or car makers have dabbled with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Harper, who is the firm’s chief executive, said: “We are securing, investing in and will operate a network of hydrogen refuelling sites across the UK, providing approximately 2,000 pumps by 2030, which will serve the UK’s heavy goods and municipal fleets.

“Working with technology developers, suppliers, consultants and vehicle manufacturers, and by forging close ties to councils, transport operators and fleet owners, we will identify and develop refuelling sites, and support vehicle conversions to accelerate net zero strategies.

“Scotland has been an early adopter of hydrogen in transport, with more than £40 million invested or earmarked in the last five years for ground-breaking hydrogen transport projects.

“Element 2 can play an important role in supporting the Scottish Government’s hydrogen policy statement objective of making hydrogen a key element of Scotland’s decarbonisation plans.”

Andrew Hagan, chief development officer, added: “We are technology agnostic, which means we will install and use the latest proven technologies but we are not tied to or invested in any particular brand of technology.”

In February, the firm appointed the former Liberal Democrat leader and former chief economist for Shell, Sir Vince Cable, as a non-executive director.

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