Darren Thomas – Senior Operations and Maintenance Engineer

— 2 min read

Darren plays a pivotal role in the safe production of hydrogen for Protium’s customers in South Wales. One of the UK’s first hydrogen production facilities in the UK, Pioneer 1 supplies hydrogen to a diverse range of customers for fleet and bus trials, local businesses, and events. Opened in March 2023, the plant contains a 100kw electrolyser, water purification system, compressor, and storage tanks.


Darren’s primary focus is ensuring the safety and efficiency of Pioneer 1. Each day begins with a thorough equipment check to ensure everything is online, operational and meets safety standards. He is also in charge of conducting detailed safety assessments, managing hydrogen storage, and overseeing the plant’s overall safety protocols, including visitor safety.

Given the plant’s operational demands, Darren is strategic about hydrogen production, often opting for nighttime operations to optimise energy efficiency and meet daily hydrogen requirements. His extensive 30-year background in engineering underpins his commitment to operational excellence, guiding the development and implementation of standard operating procedures and managing essential spares and consumables.


 Pioneer 1 is based within the University of South Wales (USW) Hydrogen Centre, and Darren liaises regularly with USW to update on the plant and facilitate academic research and learning. He is also currently mentoring three students on hydrogen production.

Darren supports the Protium team from facilitating visits for a variety of stakeholders, supporting on hydrogen sales, through to providing expertise to project teams.


Darren’s in-house expertise In operating electrolyser systems is crucial to Protium as it expands, contributing guidance to projects; overseeing the commissioning of key equipment; and ensuring compliance with rigorous standards – particularly during the commissioning of complete hydrogen production systems.


With an engineering background gained across multiple industries that include nuclear and refineries and, more recently the steel industry, Darren brings a wealth of knowledge and a deep understanding of safety and operational standards. In moving to renewables, he took on additional training including a NEBOSH General Certificate in Health and Safety, and hydrogen awareness safety training with Ricardo. Darren has completed a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and recently completed an MSc in Engineering Project Management,


Outside of work, Darren is a family man and a keen athlete, having completed several IronMan triathlons.


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