According to the UK Green Building Council, around 10% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions are directly associated with construction activities.
Cadent supported by Fastflow Energy Services, a subsidiary of United Living, are currently constructing a new Pressure Reduction Station (PRS) to facilitate the Meridian Water Development, a major £6bn, 20-year London regeneration programme led by Enfield Council.
As part of its graduate programme, Cadent gave a group of its aspiring engineers the challenge to find a way to reduce emissions and decarbonise these construction activities.
Their solution was a hydrogen fuel cell, that will power the on-site welfare unit used by the construction team on site.
The hydrogen fuel cell system replaces a conventional diesel generator typically used on large construction sites to power welfare cabins where a connection to the DNO grid is not available.
The system uses only green hydrogen to generate electricity, with the emissions consisting only of water (H²O). The hydrogen fuel cell is supplied by GeoPura, a UK–based company that specialises in providing zero emissions power solutions. It is anticipated this innovative solution will prevent circa 19,000kg of CO²e which would otherwise be emitted.
And this month, after over 8 months of research the graduates were able to see their project come to life, when the hydrogen fuel cell landed at the Tottenham PRS construction project.
One of the graduates responsible for the design is Michael Sinclair, he said: ‘It has been incredibly rewarding to be part of the team that planned this project from its origins in October- to then see the fuel cell deployed and powering our site with clean energy only 8 months later.
“It was not easy – but change never is. The hope for the future is that by building upon our work in Tottenham, it is easier to set up the next green-site, and then the next one after that – until sites powered by green energy just become the norm for Cadent.
“I am really proud that we have challenged ourselves to do better – we have shown that we don’t just talk about cutting out our carbon, we actually do something about it”
Andrew Hejdner Senior Project Manager at Cadent, said: “The graduate engineers have a taken a theoretical problem and developed a tangible solution to work towards solving a significant industry wide problem on one of the UK’s largest regeneration developments.
“The trial of this hydrogen powered fuel cell could have a massive effect on how we work in Cadent on major projects in the future. I’m proud that we are the first Gas Distribution Network to use hydrogen in this way and its thanks to the passion and enthusiasm of the graduates and project team that we secured the fuel cell in an area of industry that is receiving a lot of focus. In conjunction with several other initiatives including HVO fuel (a diesel substitute) and hybrid construction machinery we are trialling on the project, we have taken another step towards Cadent’s NetZero ambitions.”
Andrew Cunningham, GeoPura’s Managing Director, said: “GeoPura are of course delighted that Cadent Gas are showing their commitment to clean air and reducing their emissions of damaging pollutants by using one of our zero emission Hydrogen Power Units to provide electrical power to a major site.
“Cadent Gas are to be particularly congratulated though for empowering a young and relatively inexperienced team to spearhead this significant change in their operating methods, and of course the team are to be congratulated for stepping up to that challenge and successfully delivering the project. At GeoPura we’re excited about what we do, but the energy and commitment shown by the team at Cadent Gas has been an inspiration.”
Benn Cottrell, Managing Director, Fastflow Group, United Living Infrastructure Services, said: “We’re pleased to be working with Cadent on this exciting project, bringing our engineering expertise to help secure safe gas supplies for years to come.
“The construction and infrastructure industry traditionally use a significant amount of energy to deliver critical projects shaping the communities in which we live. With solutions such as hydrogen fuel cells, hybrid machinery and clean, renewable fuel, we can improve our sustainability practices, and the impact construction sites have on the environment as our industry strives towards meeting its carbon reduction targets”.
The hydrogen fuel cell trial will be monitored closely, and it is hoped that if the technology proves successful, hydrogen fuel cells could become business as usual for major construction projects in Cadent.