Hydrogen transport pilots in the Tees Valley area will establish the UK as a leader in the technology and propel us towards our net-zero goals, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on 7 August 2021, as he unveiled the winners of a £2.5 million R&D competition.
The successful trials will lead supermarkets, emergency services, and delivery companies to use hydrogen-powered transport to move goods and carry out local services.
The trials will also help understand the role hydrogen has in meeting the Government’s 2050 net-zero ambitions, which will inform future investment decisions and prime export opportunities.
Converting a diesel bus to hydrogen
In collaboration with Stagecoach, Ricardo PLC will retrofit a double-decker diesel bus with a hybrid fuel cell system. The bus will be driven on local routes, and learnings from this project will support fuel cell retrofit technologies in public transport across the UK.
Fuel-cell cars for emergency services
Toyota will be delivering several hydrogen vehicles, including a forklift truck for warehouse operations, a passenger bus and ten fuel cell passenger cars. These will be deployed across the town’s rapid response services, including Cleveland Police and NHS patient support emergency response units.
Hydrogen delivery vans
HV Systems plans to demonstrate the use of hydrogen in delivery vans in the Tees Valley area. The vans will be operated in collaboration with a leading supermarket chain, running between 19 superstores and its central distribution centre.
The project aims to show how delivery vans fitted with fuel cells can have increased range, faster refuelling times than battery-electric versions and speed parity with conventional diesel vehicles.
In collaboration with Sainsbury’s, Element Energy will also be trialling a hydrogen-powered heavy goods vehicle (HGV) manufactured by Electra Commercial Vehicles in the Tees Valley area. The truck will be operated from a local distribution centre and carry out goods deliveries in the area.
Creating a better transport system in the UK
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘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 build back greener and level up the country.
‘By harnessing the power of hydrogen technology, we can pave the way for its use across all transport modes, creating a cleaner, greener, more efficient transport system across the UK.
This announcement comes weeks after the launch of the Government’s Transport decarbonisation plan, a ‘green print that sets out a credible path for the UK to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and lead the world in tackling climate change.
Masterplan for hydrogen hub
The funding follows the unveiling of an official master plan for the UK’s first-ever hydrogen transport hub, which could be fully operational by 2025 – helping to create up to 5,000 new jobs in the North East over the long-term as we continue to level up the economy.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: ‘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.
‘In Teesside, we already produce 50% of the UK’s hydrogen, so there is no better place for this research.
‘This new investment shows how Teesside is leading the way in the drive for the UK to be net-zero by 2050, creating good-quality, well-paid, clean energy jobs in the process.
David Tozer, Head of Land and Maritime Transport, Innovate UK, said: ‘Innovate UK is pleased to support these innovative projects across the Tees Valley in partnership with the Department of Transport.
Deploying hydrogen vehicles and vessels at scale and showcasing the UK’s long-term aspirations in this space is essential in delivering UK commitments to decarbonisation.’