Project Vanguard

Using hydrogen-powered refuse collection vehicles to cut carbon and develop our understanding of hydrogen fuel.

A hybrid refuse vehicle
The hydrogen refueller arriving at the Environmental Hub, Middlewich

Cheshire East Council's story

Hydrogen Refuse Vehicles: Tackling Emissions from Waste Collection

Cheshire East Council has set a target to become carbon neutral for its own operations by 2025. Project Vanguard was designed as a 3-year demonstration project with the principle aim to reduce carbon emissions within the waste collection services across Cheshire and Warrington.

Thus far the project aims to fulfill the following objectives;
- Reduce carbon emissions from waste collection to help meet Cheshire East’s 2025 carbon neutrality target.
- Build capacity and understanding in the use, management and storage of hydrogen within the project partners.
- Support green jobs and growth through upskilling workers, and safeguarding employment in vehicle and gas technologies.
- Raise awareness of hydrogen and the climate emergency amongst the general public and school children (the two hydrogen Refuse Collection Vehicles were named ‘Chewie and Chomper’ through a school’s competition).
- Facilitate improvements in air quality using hydrogen, as part of our Air Quality Strategy, and reducing fuel transport to the site.

The facility was launched in October 2021.

The project has successfully installed an electrolyser linked to a solar photovoltaic array, hydrogen refueler, and hybrid (H2 ICE) conversion of three vehicles (two Refuse Collection Vehicles owned by Cheshire East and a Storengy 4x4).

The project is complete and the site is now fully operational.

The project has been a collaborative effort as Cheshire East Council teamed up with Storengy Ltd, ANSA Environmental Services alongside support from the Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership.

Useful learnings from Cheshire East Council

We found that prior research into similar projects such as those in Scotland and Westminster using grey hydrogen helped to develop a basic understanding of how this may work and the potential saving which could be made.

We worked very closely with Storengy to understand the practicalities of operating the project before it was built to establish if the project was deliverable.

Engagement with key stakeholders was important – especially for liaising with our local environment hub, and ANSA environmental whom as a result were aware of our goals and understood the relevance of the project. We also created publicly assessable FAQ’s to ensure information was shared openly.

We also achieved the support form local leaders and councillors early in the process.

In terms of looking back at the project, we learnt that to get things done takes a lot of time and therefore patience. We also learnt the value of having a strong, hardworking team to keep pulling the project together.

The importance of stakeholders was firmly established, we had the support of senior management and our legal team therefore that helped push the project along despite many delays due to COVID-19.

Cheshire East Council's metrics

Installation of an electrolyser linked to a solar photovoltaic array
Hydrogen refueler
Hybrid (H2 ICE) conversion of three vehicles (2 refuse collection vehicles and a 4x4)
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