Royal Mail sorting office

Royal Mail to trial hydrogen-powered van in Aberdeen

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Royal Mail is planning to trial a dual-fuel van in Aberdeen, Scotland, in order to determine if hydrogen-powered vehicles are operationally suitable for its fleet.

A converted Ford Transit van will be deployed from Altens Mail Centre in Aberdeen – a city which is home to some of the worst spots of air pollution in Scotland – over the next year.

The van is slightly larger than a typical Royal Mail van, making it suitable for supporting the company’s growth in parcel deliveries. It will be used to deliver letters, cards and parcels.

According to Royal Mail, this marks the first time in 10 years that a hydrogen-powered vehicle has been added to its fleet. The converted van can travel up to 120 miles (193km) in dual-fuel mode.

“As a company, we are committed to making changes to our operations that reduce our environmental impact,” said James Baker, chief engineer at Royal Mail. “Hydrogen is viewed by many as a vital source of future sustainable energy so is a perfect addition to our programme of initiatives that enable us to assess ways of achieving this, while allowing us to continue to deliver letters and parcels safely, efficiently and responsibly.”

Philip Bell, hydrogen spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to support green transport technology in our city by providing Royal Mail with a hydrogen-powered van to operate from its Altens Mail Centre in Aberdeen for an initial 12-month trial period.

“Aberdeen is already a global leader in pioneering transport technologies and we at Aberdeen City Council have demonstrated our commitment to innovation by helping fund in partnership the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker buses. We are determined to meet our environmental obligations for tackling air pollution while also establishing the city as a 'Centre of Excellence' for hydrogen.”

This month, the UK government published an outline of its 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution”. The plan includes working with industry to generate 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, as well as aiming to develop the first town entirely heated by hydrogen by the end of the decade.

Hydrogen has been cited by the independent Committee on Climate Change as a credible option for helping to decarbonise the UK’s energy sector, although the committee stated that its future role depends on the government being willing to commit to a low-carbon heat strategy.

Last week, Hyundai and chemical engineering giant Ineos announced a partnership to establish a “hydrogen value chain” in Europe and to investigate and facilitate opportunities for the production and supply of hydrogen and hydrogen technologies globally.

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