Kier Highways is trialling an innovative, hydrogen-powered fuel cell at its National Highways A585 Windy Harbour to Skippool site in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. The project is in collaboration with Hydrologiq and is the first hydrogen 110kVA generator deployment undertaken by Kier Highways.

This government-supported deployment aims to uncover the practical challenges of replacing diesel with hydrogen as well as reduce the site’s carbon emissions, producing less noise, vibration and air pollution.

In late 2021, Hydrologiq secured a grant from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to deploy hydrogen generators on real-world sites throughout the UK.

There are three main aims to the grant: building a platform to streamline the planning and deployment of hydrogen generators; prototyping a monitoring system for any hydrogen generator; and testing these developments through real world hydrogen generator deployments on live projects with partner businesses including those in the construction industry.

In the long term, replacing a diesel generator equivalent with this 110kVA generator could create a 40%-80% reduction in CO2e emissions when powered by grey hydrogen, and close to a 100% reduction when powered by green hydrogen.

As part of its One Planet Action Plan (OPAP), Kier Highways has committed to achieve net zero scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 2030. This is in in line with the Kier Group Sustainability Framework, Building for a Sustainable World which sets out a target of net-zero across operations by 2045.

Matt Tompsett, head of environment and sustainability at Kier Highways, said: “Hydrogen is a key solution to the decarbonisation of both our fleet and plant. At Kier Highways, we have a target for all our fleet and plant to be running on alternative fuels by 2030. There is no silver bullet to this issue and there won’t be one alternative fuel solution.

“Whilst we are transitioning our small fleet and plant to electric, we recognise hydrogen is currently the most viable solution to larger fleet, plant and generators. The trial of this hydrogen generator is an important step on this journey, helping the ‘proof of concept’”, expelling myths, and engaging our employees who will use the new equipment and technology.”

Hydrologiq is a UK start-up company that specialises in off-grid hydrogen through connecting end users with their network of hydrogen fuel and hardware suppliers.

Benjamin Lindley, director at Hydrologiq, said:Hydrologiq exists to help businesses like Kier Highways make a tangible move towards Net Zero in off-grid power. Currently there are many challenges to overcome when deploying a hydrogen-powered generator on an active project. I'd like to thank our supplier partners and everyone on the Hydrologiq team who worked on compliance, logistics, and commissioning to facilitate Kier's access to this new and complex technology.

“We are grateful for the support of Kier Highways for their enthusiasm, interest, and professionalism. From senior environmental management and project managers, through to works managers and ground workers, the entire team at the Windy Harbour site have played a major role in making this deployment a success.”

On behalf of National Highways, Kier Highways is building a 4.85km long dual two-lane carriageway bypass from Windy Harbour Junction to the Skippool Junction. It aims to reduce congestion, increase economic growth and improve the safety of pedestrians, equestrians and cyclists around the existing A585 carriageway.