Advanced Television

BBC’s Winterwatch solely powered by green hydrogen

January 27, 2021

BBC Studios Natural History Unit has announced the successful live transmission of a 60 minute episode of Winterwatch powered entirely by green hydrogen fuel and energy saving batteries.

The hydrogen generator is located at Winterwatch’s outside broadcasting hub at BBC Bristol and is helping to replace the use of a diesel powered generator. Diesel generators are traditionally used in live outdoor productions, as filming often uses too much power to draw energy from the grid.

Across the show’s presenter locations, the production team used batteries powered by intelligent hybrid generator systems which use spare energy to charge batteries, significantly minimising the use of diesel fuel and CO2 emissions.

Using green hydrogen and the energy saving batteries instead of diesel twinset generators during one live episode of Winterwatch avoided 3.3 tonnes of carbon emissions. Producing one hour of TV produces an average 9.2 tonnes of carbon emissions according to BAFTA Albert’s 2019-20 annual report, demonstrating the positive impact that green hydrogen could have if widely adopted.

Provided by Siemens Energy and Geopura, the hydrogen generator uses hydrogen gas made by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity generated by solar and wind power. When used the hydrogen turns back into pure and drinkable water, meaning that the ‘exhaust’ is emissions and waste free and the process is entirely circular.

The hydrogen generator will remain at BBC Bristol’s outside broadcasting hub for the duration of the Winterwatch series, with plans already in place to bring back the use of green hydrogen for future series.

With shows such as Winterwatch, Seven Worlds One Planet and Dynasties, BBC Studios Natural History Unit has taken positive steps to make its programmes more sustainably and reduce its carbon footprint over recent years, and is committed to informing the world about climate change through its programmes.

In an effort to achieve the BBC’s goal to be net zero in terms of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, the Natural History Unit has committed to hiring local crews on location to reduce flying teams around the world, using drones instead of helicopters for aerial footage, and using methanol fuel cells to power remote cameras.

Julian Hector, Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit, said: “Everyone at Winterwatch and the BBC Studios Natural History Unit is punching the air at the prospect of finding a way to make our productions more sustainable. This is a superb development for us and the environment, and exactly the kind of thing we want to do more of.”

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