Off-grid power solutions: The SWISH2 Education Centre

Fuel Cell Systems design and deliver the UK’s first fully integrated portable building powered by fuel cell and solar generated hydrogen.



7032-32-smallLocated at the Honda manufacturing plant in Swindon, the SWISH2 Education Centre demonstrates the potential of solar generated hydrogen to provide off-grid power and heat solutions to locations where there is no mains electricity supply.

The SWISH2 project is co-funded by Innovate UK and uses hydrogen generated by solar energy to service a public-access hydrogen refilling centre and to power the education centre, fork lift trucks, and commercial vehicle fleets.

Designing the education centre

After considerable research, Fuel Cell Systems selected the largest self-contained single unit transportable by road in Europe from the Portakabin Titan range, providing 45m2 space.

The team at Fuel Cell Systems designed and fitted out the building to provide a plant room for the hydrogen fuel cell, a small office, a disabled toilet, a kitchen area and a multi-function meeting space. Further efficiency modifications were made by adding extra wall and ceiling insulation, LED lighting and by upgrading the glass in the floor-to-ceiling windows to help reflect solar radiation. In addition to the hydrogen power the centre is connected to a water supply and sewerage system making it a fully autonomous building.

7032-111-smallGreen energy

The education centre is powered by solar-generated hydrogen created onsite at Honda. Equivalent power can also be provided by hydrogen cylinders where energy generated onsite is not available.

Hydrogen is piped directly into the plant room to supply the fuel cell. The fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce direct current (DC) electricity, heat and water. The fuel cell used in the education centre can produce 3 kilo watts of DC electricity which charges a bank of batteries, the output from which is converted into mains voltage electricity using an inverter.

All the energy you need

The warm air produced by the fuel cell is reused by ducting it to heat the main office and is diverted outside in warmer weather. This is managed by a custom-built control system using a low-cost Raspberry Pi computer, a type of computer often used in electronics projects and deliberately chosen to showcase its capability as an educational tool.

The plant system supports all the building needs including lights, computers, display screens, wall heaters, a coffee machine and numerous sensors and data controllers.

Customised power solutions

Fuel Cell Systems’ specialist knowledge of portable fuel cell products and associated technologies has enabled them to design a unique integration experience for the SWISH2 education centre combining:

  • Heat and power systems
  • Low energy lighting and efficiency
  • Monitoring and control

The innovative approach used to power the education centre is a ‘game changer’ in terms of powering portable buildings which can be applied to any off-grid building as well as scaled up or down as required

User perspective

“The centre showcases being powered by locally produced, green hydrogen and is also an extremely useful multi-function building.  It is an ideal venue for hosting meetings for staff, clients and contractors as well as educational school parties. Its serves as a great construction site office during civil engineering work.”

Steve Ward, Operations Section Managerat Honda Manufacturing UK