UK Government aims to triple hydrogen vehicle numbers with £2m funding pot

The UK Government's vision to ensure that almost all cars on the roads by 2050 are zero-emission reached another milestone on Tuesday (10 May), after a £2m funding pot aimed at tripling the number of hydrogen vehicles in the UK was revealed.

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) believes that the number of hydrogen vehicles on UK roads could triple to more than 100, after announcing a new £2m fund which will cover up to 75% of new vehicle costs bought by April 2017, while also covering the running costs for the vehicles for up to three years.

“We are always looking at new ways to make the vehicles of the future cleaner, and hydrogen fuel cells are an important part of our vision for almost all cars and vans to be zero-emission by 2050,” Transport Minister Andrew Jones said.

“This funding, along with the growing network of hydrogen refuelling stations opening in England, will help businesses and the public sector to get on board with this exciting technology. This is further proof that we are leading the way in making journeys cleaner and protecting the environment.”

The funding forms part of the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) support scheme – available local authorities, public organisations and private enterprises until July 2016 – which aims to ‘green’ fleets by introducing and incentivising hydrogen models.

The FCEV scheme follows the £5m Government investment into hydrogen infrastructure in 2014, which pledged to introduce 12 hydrogen refuelling stations. Tuesday marked the opening of the second of these 12 stations, with the Government aiming to open the remaining 10 by the end of the year.

Fruitful progress

The new fuelling station, located in Teddington, Greater London, has been welcomed by automakers Hyundai. The company’s hydrogen ix35 Fuel Cell model – which recently set a new world record for the longest continuous journey in a hydrogen vehicle – has already been commercialised in the UK, with 15 currently on the roads.

Hyundai Motor UK’s chief executive Tony Whitehorn said: “When we made the ix35 Fuel Cell commercially available we were blazing a trail, and we made a commitment to help in the development of the refuelling infrastructure – the fruits of which can clearly be seen with this, and other station launches happening this year.

“We also know how well received the ix35 Fuel Cell is with our existing fleet customers so we’re very happy to be involved with the government’s new £2m fund to encourage more businesses to switch to hydrogen.”

Riversimple pleasures

The news comes as Welsh vehicle manufacturer Riversimple – which previously launched the two-seater hydrogen prototype the Rasa – unveiled new concepts for a four-seater and a small van.

The concept vehicles would also be offered to customers through a contract process similar to mobile phones. Riversimple are offering the two models through a service model that includes an all-inclusive cost subscription covering purchase costs, fuel, maintenance and car insurance.

Hydrogen vehicles are proving popular among public organisations and local authorities, with Europe’s “Hydrogen City” Aberdeen utilising hydrogen vehicles as part of a transport renting scheme.

However, the concept of hydrogen vehicles is also gaining traction outside of the automotive industry. Renewable electricity company Good Energy has recently signed an agreement to supply zero-carbon power to ITM Power hydrogen refuelling stations.

Speaking exclusively to edie ahead of her appearance at next week’s edie Live exhibition, the Hydrogen Hub’s programme leader Clare Jackson claimed that embracing a sharing economy could allow hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to carve out a niche route to accelerate into the mainstream vehicle mix.

Greening your fleet at edie Live 2016

Whether from logistics and operational vehicles or company cars, fleet emissions can contribute significantly to an organisation’s carbon footprint. From driver management to electric vehicles, the edie Live 2016 exhibition at the NEC Birmingham in May will address the approaches and options available to reduce impact, cut carbon and green your fleet.

Find out more about edie Live 2016 and register to attend for free here.

Matt Mace

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