Hydrogen buses, rapid response vehicles and forklift trucks bag share of £2.5m Government funding pot

A string of hydrogen transport projects in the Tees Valley region have won a share of a £2.5m Government competition funding pot for research and development.

Image: Element Energy

Image: Element Energy

The Department for Transport has today (17 August) announced the winners of the competition, which was aimed at businesses and collaborations in Tees Valley as around 50% of the UK’s hydrogen production capacity is based there. Innovate UK is working with the Department and winners to allocate the funding and record progress.

One winning business is Ricardo, which will work with Stagecoach to retrofit a double-decker diesel bus with a hybrid hydrogen fuel cell system. The bus will then be driven, without passengers, on local routes, to collect data on real-world operations. Brand new hydrogen buses are already being rolled out across the UK but retrofitting is in its infancy.

Another winner is Toyota, which will trial 10 fuel cell passenger cars across the region’s rapid response units for the Cleveland Police service and NHS Patient Support service. Additionally, Toyota will be trialling one hydrogen forklift truck for warehouse operations.

The final two winners are HV Systems, which will be trialling a fleet of hydrogen delivery vans to serve 19 supermarket stores and one distribution centre, and Element Energy, which will be trialling one hydrogen heavy goods vehicle (HGV) in collaboration with Sainsbury’s.

In a statement, the DfT highlighted the fact that the funding builds on the unveiling of a masterplan for the UK’s first hydrogen transport hub in the Tees Valley area, which could be in full operation by 2025.

“With less than 100 days to go until COP26, I’m committed to supporting industry to develop innovative new technologies that will decarbonise transport, helping us to build back greener and level up the country,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen added: “Through trialling the use of hydrogen in transport across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, we are spearheading the path to a greener future by developing the knowledge and expertise needed to roll hydrogen out as a fuel source across the country.”

Transport Decarbonisation Plan & Hydrogen Strategy

The announcement on the funding for Tees Valley projects comes on the same day that the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published its much-anticipated Hydrogen Strategy.

The Strategy builds on the Ten-Point Plan ambition for the UK to host 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen generation by 2030. It has seen the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launching consultations on how a new a £240m ‘Net-Zero Hydrogen Fund’ should be allocated; how a new ‘low-carbon’ standard for producers could be drawn up and how a new ‘Hydrogen Business Model’, to be based on the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction scheme for renewable energy generation, should be laid out.

The Strategy details plans for scaling up hydrogen production and consumption domestically and is based on a forecast that some 20-35% of the nation’s energy consumption could be met with hydrogen by 2050. This is a higher proportion than the global average of 10% forecast by Bloomberg Intelligence. Bloomberg Intelligence is predicting that hydrogen will play a larger role in decarbonising marine transport, road transport and aviation than building heating, where it sees heat pumps playing the major role.

Another policy package to have been released in recent weeks is the Transport Decarbonisation Plan.  Transport is the UK’s most-emitting sector and the DfT had promised a strategy for tackling all modes of mobility by the end of 2020, but work was delayed due to Covid-19.

Included in the Plan are measures to end the sale of all new petrol and diesel HGVs by 2040; support the upcoming ban on new petrol and diesel car sales; phase-out diesel trains by 2040; achieve net-zero domestic aviation by 2040 and international aviation by 2050.

Sarah George



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