Hydrogen journey underpins commitment to brighter, greener future

Phil Parker Sunbelt Rentals
Phil Parker

Phil Parker, CEO of Sunbelt Rentals UK & Ireland, provides an update on the company’s journey with hydrogen

The topic of hydrogen as a sustainable solution to fuelling the future of our planet has been around for a long time, with it widely considered the most viable replacement for fossil fuels. But right now, although we’re seeing fuel suppliers and supporting technologies emerge, it’s without doubt that fuel providers, manufacturers and end users still have a lot to learn about how and when hydrogen will become a commercially viable solution that’s safe and easy to use at scale.

Why hydrogen?

To meet the UK Government’s 2050 net zero targets, it’s crucial that we take steps to move away from fossil fuels at pace. Fortunately, hydrogen offers a sustainable and clean energy option, as it is plentiful and versatile due to the abundance of water and oxygen on our planet, making it a promising option.

And with the UK Government’s vision for a hydrogen-based economy (as published in their 2021 Hydrogen Strategy), it further strengthens the importance of exploring and gaining a better understanding of hydrogen as a low carbon fuel solution.

Exploring hydrogen technologies

The team at Sunbelt Rentals are proud to already be making a difference by helping our customers significantly reduce their carbon emissions on their sites, sets and facilities through investments in battery, solar and hybrid powered equipment. However, we know that we need to go further.

When it comes to decarbonising the industries we support and operate in, energy is a key starting point. Temporary power and off grid energy have been well documented as one of the largest global contributors to CO2 emissions, therefore, a fossil fuel replacement would greatly enable a step change towards our commitment to achieve net-zero by 2050 and helping our customers reach their own net zero targets.

At Sunbelt Rentals, innovation is one of our core values: driving our journey to decarbonisation and enabling our team to uncover sustainable practises and solutions. However, when exploring new technologies, we prioritise research and due diligence. We know that through agnostic approach: by listening to our customers, and understanding their goals and challenges, our experts can collaborate with our extensive supply chain to explore possibilities and deliver real solutions.

As we move into our next five-year growth strategy, Sunbelt 4.0, we’re focused on five actional components including sustainability, investment, and technology, all underpinned by our core principles of prioritising our customers and people. We’re committed to supporting the industry and enhancing everything we do to support our customers, which we see in the development of hydrogen. By bringing together emerging and existing expertise around sustainability and greener technologies, we strive to deliver safe, meaningful, and commercially viable solutions for all.

Sunbelt Rentals hydrogen innovation

H2 learning and development group:

Our journey into hydrogen began several years ago with our in-house greener technology experts engaging with industry leaders to understand their developmental plans for hydrogen. We were also able to cast our research net further afield to uncover and learn more about emerging hydrogen technologies across the world.

Through this research, we established a need to bring together a team of experts and created the ‘H2 learning and development group’, led by Sunbelt Rentals UK. This group brings together our customers (the end users), from multiple sectors, industry pioneers and manufacturers to share knowledge, discuss challenges and uncover solutions that will fundamentally enable the commercial adoption of hydrogen as a fossil fuel replacement in temporary power applications.

The group continues to explore both fuel cell and combustion engine power-generation technologies, with the support from a range of experts in the hydrogen field. These experts include health and safety leaders, operational support groups, research teams, and our own technical experts.

Members of the group actively engage in identifying opportunities to trial the use of hydrogen in real-world applications. As facilitators, Sunbelt Rentals play the role in bringing together the ultimate end users, hydrogen experts and manufacturers, connecting the dots to make it happen for our customers.

The next steps for hydrogen technologies at Sunbelt Rentals UK:

The outputs from our H2 learning and development group has led to live UK based trials with hydrogen fuel cell generators. As we continue this journey, we will be sharing our insights and learnings gained from these trails to the industry. Our goal is to work together with the industries we operate in toward a net zero future, and we believe that by sharing our learnings, we can all take a step in the right direction.

We understand we’re on a journey of discovery with hydrogen and know the importance of thorough research before offering any new technology to our customers. Our team, alongside the H2 group, are pioneering a way to ensure the safe use and commercialisation of hydrogen in all the sectors we serve, and this isn’t something we will rush into. We’re committed to understanding and overcoming the challenges for all; from production and availability to cost, operational challenges and safety. However, we believe that every challenge presents an opportunity and alongside our customers and supply chain partners, we’re determined to lead the way in developing a rule book that will enable a safe transition towards a hydrogen fuelled net zero future.

The team at Sunbelt Rentals are committed to innovating change that will help steer us towards a brighter, greener future and our hydrogen journey underpins this commitment. We’re the team behind the team, and it’s a role we’re proud to play. Because the world needs doers and problem-solvers to turn what-if into what is and gives us the power to deliver a future we can all be proud of.