Few matters are more pressing than the need to improve the air quality of our cities, so it was no surprise to see Energy System Catapult’s central Birmingham offices packed to the rafters for the Midlands Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Network’s inaugural ‘Midlands Showcase’.

The event took place on 17th May, 2017, and was attended by almost 100 people. Event partners included Energy Systems Catapult, Intelligent Energy, ITM Power, and Enterprise Europe Network, whilst the event was also promoted by Energy Capital, the West Midlands’ regional initiative supporting energy systems innovation.

Hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles run on compressed hydrogen, which is fed into a group of individual fuel cells. These can be used with an electric motor to power vehicles both efficiently and cleanly. Most refuelling stations create hydrogen onsite, with electrolysis and using 100 percent renewable surplus energy. Therefore, there are no emissions from either the production process or the fuel’s consumption.

Jacqui Staunton, Project Direct at Climate Change Solutions, helped organise the Midlands Showcase and was keen to stress the role this exciting technology can play in improving the air quality of our towns and cities. She said, ‘We all recognise the importance of reducing air pollution, which currently causes 40,000 premature deaths each year in the UK. We were delighted to organise an event which demonstrated the role this clean technology can play – the only emissions being water vapour.’

ITM Power is a company that specialises in hydrogen fuel cell products. John Newton, Managing Director, added, ‘UK cities are now under increasing pressure to improve air quality.  Air pollution levels have reached “very high” or “high” in eight regions across the UK, and London has been issued a final warning by the EU.  ITM Power has made significant headway in planning further hydrogen refuelling station deployments on the M1, M4, M40, and particularly inside the M25, ahead of the accelerating roll-out of commercial and passenger fuel cell electric vehicles as a result of new air quality legislation.’

Intelligent Energy is another company specialising in this ‘game changing’ technology. Business Development Director, Lee Juby, explained, ‘Intelligent Energy delivers clean energy solutions for the distributed energy, diesel replacement, automotive and aerial drone markets. There is massive potential for fuel cells and we develop and manufacture modular air cooled fuel cell stacks and systems that can be used in a wide variety of applications. With our HQ in Loughborough, we are proud to be supporting this Midlands event and we are looking forward to demonstrating to visitors how fuel cells could work for them.’

Hydrogen and Fuel Cells are now becoming big business, demonstrated by the fact that the Hydrogen Council, formed earlier this year by 13 leading companies, has pledged to invest over £8 billion per annum in the industry over the next five years.

The UK market alone is estimated to be worth £1 billion by 2020 and the West Midlands currently occupies an excellent position. It is home to Energy Capital, and the area is supporting a large scale demonstrator in Tyseley. Birmingham also hosts the sector’s two leading UK conferences and the region’s universities are widely regarded as national leaders in research and development.

If you missed the inaugural Midlands Showcase, don’t panic. The 14th International Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Conference will take place at the NEC, Birmingham in March of next year, and you can register your interest, including in sponsorship opportunities, by contacting Jacqui Staunton now.

Email: Jacqui.staunton@climate-change-solutions.co.uk

Telephone: 07866 552 833