Shell hydrogen Cobham

The hydrogen refuelling station at Cobham

Shell UK has closed down its three hydrogen refuelling stations for cars and vans and said it is now turning its attention to fuelling larger vehicles.

It described the three sites at Beaconsfield, Cobham on the M25 and Gatwick Airport as first generation prototypes and said the technology in them had reached the end of its life.

Shell has been the only major oil company to trial dispensing hydrogen for cars and vans in the UK, and although it is developing a network in Germany, in the UK there has only been a minimal number of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles it could serve.

The UK sites were developed with ITM Power, and the partners agreed to shut down the operation earlier this year. ITM Power’s subsidiary ITM Motive is decommissioning them along with a fourth hydrogen refuelling station it ran in Swindon.

ITM Motive 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”. It added that the sites were too small to upgrade for larger vehicles and future technologies.

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. In April it signed an agreement 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.