Mace Group to use hydrogen generators at construction sites

In what it claims is a first for the UK's construction sector, Mace Group has signed a deal that will see it deploy hydrogen generators to replace diesel generators at construction sites.

Mace Group to use hydrogen generators at construction sites

Mace Group is striving to phase-out diesel generators by 2026

The firm has formed a strategic partnership with AFC Energy, a hydrogen power generation technology specialist, to trial and scale hydrogen in hard-to-abate activities across the sector.

As a first step, the Mace Group will begin testing hydrogen generators on selected construction sites in the UK and internationally in early 2022. Mace Group had notably already committed to remove diesel generators from all sites globally by 2026 – a commitment that will help deliver its aim of reducing absolute emissions from operations by 10% year-on-year from 2021.  

Mace and AFC Energy will, simultaneously, work with plant hire firms and engage with policymakers to help promote a shift from diesel to hydrogen across the wider sector.

A statement from the two firms on this work reads: “The provision of temporary power to construction sites is currently provided through the hiring of on-site diesel gensets through plant hire businesses rather than constructors purchasing generators directly.  To drive the decarbonisation of the construction industry, it is essential that a market-based demand for alternative, sustainable on-site generation is signalled to plant hire businesses through partnerships like this one to support investment in deployable clean energy technologies including hydrogen fuel cells.”

In January, Mace announced that it has achieved net-zero emissions across operations and developments. However, it is hoping to reduce its direct emissions further in future, thus reducing its reliance on offsetting. The business is planning to publish a more detailed decarbonisation roadmap later this year.

Hydrogen policy

The announcement from Mace Group comes in the same week that the vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hydrogen, Alexander Stafford MP, has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge more support for hydrogen as a transport fuel.

Stafford’s letter stipulates that the UK will not meet the Hydrogen Taskforce’s recommended target of 100 hydrogen refuelling stations for road transport by 2025 – let alone ensuring that most hydrogen is green – unless costs are reduced.

While reducing costs will, ultimately, depend on the scaling up of green hydrogen generation globally, Stafford’s letter urges Johnson to also consider reforms to the renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO).

It states: “Under the current RTFO rules, hydrogen electrolysers can only be issued a certificate by connecting to new wind farms. There is approximately a three-year wait to synchronise the build of an electrolyser to the development timescales of new wind farms, which in effect delays the scaling of the UK’s hydrogen economy by three years.“

The letter stipulates that reform of RTFO rules would be timely, given that the Department for Transport is working with BEIS on both the Hydrogen Strategy and the Transport Decarbonisation Plan – both of which have faced Covid-19-related delays but are now due ahead of COP26.

The contents of the letter reflect discussions at a recent industry roundtable. Organisations represented at that meeting include Østed, Shell, Scottish Power and WrightBus.

“I am pleased by the cooperation of all major players across the hydrogen sector and look forward to working with the industry to achieve the necessary reforms to our existing legislature, which will unlock investment and help us on our way to reaching our net-zero ambitions,” Stafford summarised.

edie recently published a feature entitled: ‘Are UK policy and industry at a hydrogen tipping point?’ You can read that article in full here.

Sarah George

Comments (1)

  1. Darren Burrows says:

    That’s all very well, but the hydrogen used has to be produced using clean energy in the first place otherwise you’re simply moving the problem not dealing with it.

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