The energy major described the three sites as first-generation prototypes and said that “prototype tech had reached its end of life” but, with limited numbers of fuel cell cars needing to use the refilling facilities, Shell is, instead, exploring opportunities for larger vehicles. The sites are reported to be too small to upgrade for larger vehicles and future technologies.
The only major oil company to trial dispensing hydrogen for cars and vans in the UK, Shell is also developing a network in Germany but in the UK there has only been a minimal number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles it could serve.
Shell had received funding through the European Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (now known as the Clean Hydrogen Partnership) and the UK Office of Low Emission Vehicles (now called the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles) for all three stations.
The Shell H2 facilities at Gatwick Airport, Cobham and Beaconsfield were operated by Motive, owned by UK electrolyser maker ITM Power.
Motive, who had closed a fourth station in Swindon earlier this year, said it had invested over £2m (£2.23m) per year to “sustain its small stations but has decided that it is not sustainable to continue to make this investment”.
All four sites will be decommissioned.
Ambition to be major producer
Shell said its focus in the UK is to see where there are opportunities to build multi-modal hubs for heavy-duty trucks, similar to a model it has built in California.
It also has plans to be a major producer of hydrogen in the UK and signed an agreement, in April, with the multinational energy company Uniper, to progress plans to produce blue hydrogen at Uniper’s Killingholme power station site in the East of England.