Wales Promotes a Valley of Hydrogen Technology

Hydrogen is often associated with highways in plans for technology development, but Wales has introduced the Hydrogen Valley to the United Kingdom. The initiative is geared to make Wales a key center in the UK for the demonstration and development of alternative fuel technologies.

Global development of sustainable energy sources for vehicles and the growing pressure to reduce fuel emissions was the catalyst for officials in Wales to move forward with the initiative. “The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to sustainable development, and if Wales is to become a significant global player in the future development of a hydrogen economy we need to grasp the available opportunities,” said Andrew Davies, who is the Minister for Economic Development and Transport. “We cannot afford to take a back seat, but need to be actively involved in the development of emerging technologies and ensure Welsh businesses – particularly in the automotive sector – will be in a position to benefit.” These are key issues facing the automotive industry, which the majority of vehicle manufacturers worldwide are addressing by investing millions on research in developing low emission vehicles, alternative fuels and power trains. The initiative should have a long term impact on the component manufacturing sector, according to the Ministry’s press release, and Hydrogen Valley will work with the Welsh auto sector to ensure it is equipped to take advantage of these emerging technologies. It will also focus on developing niche markets and new business opportunities. Davies described Hydrogen Valley as a unique opportunity to utilize the existing hydrogen infrastructure in Wales and harness the expertise in the private and public sectors to drive the initiative forward. The initial stage involves stimulating demand, influencing public perception and demonstrating viable futuristic vehicles and energy solutions. But within ten years it is envisaged there will be hydrogen-fuelling stations, zero/low emission integrated transport networks, hydrogen-powered water taxis and logistics hubs where HGVs can transfer goods onto electric vehicles for delivery to city and town center businesses. Hydrogen Valley is a Welch Development Agency managed and European Objective One funded project. The partnership believes Wales is in a unique position to develop this micro hydrogen economy by capitalizing on the existing hydrogen infrastructure in South Wales. There are already seven hydrogen production sites along the M4 corridor, and an existing hydrogen pipeline infrastructure that could be tapped into and an established hydrogen research center. Dave Wardle, Hydrogen Energy European Manager for BOC, said, “Hydrogen Valley brings the commercial reality of hydrogen fuelled, non-polluting vehicles one step closer. This is an important initiative for Wales and will gather momentum as the market develops.”
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