Winterwatch makes TV history as world’s first large scale outside broadcast solely powered by green hydrogen

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

Published: 27 January 2021
Diagram showing Winterwatch's green hydrogen powered outside broadcast
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.”
— Julian Hector, Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit

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 instead of diesel twinset generators at all sites 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 instead of 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.”

Winterwatch will continue at 8pm on Thursday and Friday this week. You can catch-up with the entire series so far on BBC iPlayer.

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For more information, please contact: charlotte.tromans@bbc.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

About BBC Studios

BBC Studios, a global content company with British creativity at its heart, is a commercial subsidiary of the BBC Group. Able to take an idea seamlessly from thought to screen, it spans content financing, development, production, sales, branded services, and ancillaries from both its own productions and programmes and formats made by high-quality UK independents. Award-winning British programmes made by the business are internationally recognised across a broad range of genres and specialisms, including factual, drama, entertainment and comedy. BBC Studios has offices in 22 markets globally, including six production bases in the UK and production bases and partnerships in a further nine countries around the world. The company, which makes around 2,500 hours of content a year, is a champion for British creativity around the world and a committed partner for the UK’s independent sector. Created in April 2018 by the merger of two existing commercial subsidiaries, BBC Worldwide and BBC Studios, the company has revenue of around £1.4bn. In the year to March 2019, it returned £243m to the BBC Group, complementing the BBC’s licence fee and enhancing programmes for UK audiences.

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