hydrogen pumping station

£20m up for grabs for zero-emission vehicle innovations

Image credit: Dreamstime

The UK government is launching a research and development competition for the most promising zero-emission vehicle innovations, with a prize pot of £20m.

The competition is open to all ideas for zero-emission vehicles, such as electric emergency vehicles, improved charging technology, or EV battery recycling. Previous winners include pop-up electric vehicle (EV) chargers, which rise from the pavement, and a hydrogen-fuelled ambulance prototype for London Ambulance Service which reaches 145km/h and can travel an average of 320km in a day.

Promising proposals could benefit from a portion of the £20m funding. The government says that the investment will “help ensure the UK remains a world leader in EV design and manufacture”, which could create 6,000 skilled jobs over the next decade.

“Investing in innovation is crucial in decarbonising transport, which is why I’m delighted to see creative zero-emission projects across the UK come to life,” said the transport secretary Grant Shapps. “The funding announced today will help harness some of the brightest talent in the UK tech industry, encouraging businesses to become global leaders in EV innovation, creating jobs and accelerating us towards our net-zero ambitions.”

Simon Edwards, chief business officer of Innovate UK, commented: “Innovations to increase the uptake of zero-emission vehicles will make our air cleaner while supporting innovative UK business. Innovate UK has played a crucial role in helping businesses bring their innovations towards reality and we urge those innovators with bright ideas to apply for this vital funding.”

The government is moving forward its ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles from 2035 to 2030, forcing automakers to accelerate their transition to electric vehicles.

The transition will also require a vast expansion of infrastructure to support EVs, mainly the rollout of a network of private and public EV charging points. Last month, the government allocated £50m to help small businesses install EV charging points; the EV Homecharge Scheme will provide up to £350 towards installation. It will expand this year to include people in rented and leasehold accommodation.

The Policy Exchange think tank warned last month that the UK needs to ramp up its installation of EV charging points to five times its current rate if the phase out of new vehicles with internal combustion engines is to be achieved by 2030. There are just 35,000 charging points in operation at present; the UK will need approximately 400,000 public charging points by 2030.

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