Cheltenham office supplier first to convert van fleet for hydrogen use
COMMERCIAL Group has revealed it is part of a group of companies that have won multi-million pound funding to drive hydrogen fuel use.
And now the Cheltenham-based office supplies, IT services, interiors and print company is thought to be the first company in Europe, and possibly the world, to convert its complete van fleet to run off zero emission hydrogen fuel on a permanent basis.
Commercial is part of a consortium aiming to make Britain's roads more environmentally-friendly by supporting a programme to convert vehicles and install hydrogen fuel tanks around the country.
The company's move is the result of a successful week-long trial with hydrogen vans at the beginning of last year.
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The successful bid for Government funding was made by several companies, including Honda, industrial gas provider BOC and fuel cell developer ACAL Energy.
Commercial Group has also worked with universities and had support through the Technology Strategy Board.
Simon Graham, environmental strategist at Commercial Group, said: "This is cutting edge.
"It's a major thing for Gloucestershire because it links us with this (national) project.
"We are trying to make Britain a leader with this hydrogen network. South Korea are hot on it and California.
"Our part is to test these vehicles and to do so in a real sense, not theory.
"This is the next step for us. To say how can we change our way of working. To move away from using any fossil fuels."
Commercial Group will be involved in part of the funding, up to one million pounds, to convert its fleet and influence ongoing road mapping, which is being discussed by and outside the consortium as to where the fuel tanks will be installed.
"We want to change public perception," Simon added.
"We are doing something normal. We are delivering things from vans, working from an office and this is similar to any other business.
"We want to say the future will look like this. We haven't got infinite money or resources and hydrogen will lead to quieter roads with less pollution."
The three year project will see hydrogen vans driven around the county, as part of a longer-term strategy to find alternatives to petrol and diesel.
Commercial Group is aiming to reduce the amount of mileage its vans do as well as making sure its fuel use is more efficient and reduce its heavy fuel costs.
The company became the first to trial hydrogen vans in Gloucestershire last year when Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood joined the company's co-founder Simone Hindmarch-Bye at its client In2Print's offices in Elmstone Hardwicke.