Refueling Hydrogen Car Concept

Infrastructure investment to see supermarket trucks fuelled by hydrogen

Image credit: Ezps Shutterstock

Two new projects designed to support hydrogen vehicles for supermarket delivery and airport vehicles have received £8m in backing from the Department for Transport.

Hydrogen is expected to become more popular in medium- to heavy-duty vehicles; unlike their electric counterparts, the refuelling process represents a similar time commitment and experience to existing petrol and diesel vehicles.

Although the technology is vastly different, hydrogen refuelling stations can operate in a similar way to the status quo, delivering equivalent refuelling times and ranges. There will be a market for smaller passenger vehicles, but heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and larger passenger vehicles currently offer a greater opportunity for hydrogen.

One project led by ULEMCo, which is receiving a share of the new funding, will develop hydrogen-powered airport ground-based support vehicles, such as tow trucks for aeroplanes and sweepers to clean runways.

This will be based at Teesside International Airport, which will help the airport reach its goal of being net zero by 2030.

Another of the winning projects, led by Element 2, aims to create new hydrogen refuelling stations, helping to provide the infrastructure needed to scale up the use of the fuel.

The funding will create four new publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations, increasing the number of refuelling stations in the UK by 50 per cent. These will be used to fuel a range of vehicles, from airside vehicles to HGVs, including supermarket delivery trucks.

“Hydrogen technology has great potential to decarbonise transport and help grow the economy,” said transport secretary Mark Harper.

“Today’s winners illustrate the expertise the Tees Valley has as a pioneer in developing hydrogen tech. This investment will provide a further boost to the economy, creating skilled jobs and apprenticeships across the North East.”

Already used in buses across the country, hydrogen fuel cells create no harmful exhaust emissions. However, while hydrogen is a potentially zero-carbon fuel source, it can be more carbon intensive than gas and coal if derived from fossil fuels rather than through electrolysis powered by a renewable energy source – what is known as ‘green hydrogen’.

Currently, 95 per cent of hydrogen produced worldwide is produced from fossil fuels by splitting natural gas into hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and therefore has a high carbon footprint.

Phil Forster, managing director of Teesside International Airport, said: “We’re working hard to make Teesside an airport people can be proud of – and that doesn’t just mean flying to the destinations people love. It’s about acting responsibly, for the good of our local people and businesses and the future of our planet.

“This hydrogen refuelling station does just that by proving this new technology is safe and reliable, and can be used across all sorts of applications. This makes it clear Teesside is helping to pioneer both the aviation industry and the clean energy sector.”

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles