Government to force service stations to offer hydrogen

22 February, 2017

The government is going ahead with plans to give it powers to force “large fuel retailers” and operators of motorway service areas to provide electric charging points and hydrogen refuelling facilities.

The Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, which has just been published, would give the Government the power to compel “large fuel retailers” and motorway service area operators to provide “public charging points” – defined in the Bill as electric vehicle charging points and hydrogen refuelling points.

It adds that operators may also be required to make information available about the facilities including not just location and operating hours, but real-time information such as whether the facilities are in use.

It does not give a precise definition of “large fuel retailers” or motorway service area operators saying simply there will be a prescribed description.

The provisions in the Bill have been included following a four-week public consultation which ended in November last year.

In the consultation document it said: “Given the variety of businesses currently retailing vehicle fuel, we propose that the measure be restricted to those above a certain size. This could be defined in a number of ways, including turnover, vehicle throughput, and/or volume of fuel sold.

“Supermarkets and oil companies currently own 30% of UK petrol stations with 60% of market share by volume, and it may be appropriate to focus the requirements on those rather than independent or dealer-owned forecourts.”

The document accepted that hydrogen refuelling would not be viable before 2025 without public funding. But it added: “Public funding of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure beyond 2020 is unlikely to be viable. Government is therefore considering options to provide confidence to secure private investment during the Investing in Growth phase.

“These options include mandating provision of hydrogen refuelling at fuel retail forecourts where appropriate, MSAs or other strategic locations, and conferring first mover advantage to early investors by granting time-limited regional franchises for hydrogen refuelling.”

Unveiling the Bill, transport minister John Hayes said: “If we are to accelerate the use of electric vehicles we must take action now and be ready to take more action later. I recognise that to encourage more drivers to go electric, the infrastructure needs to become even more widespread than the 11,000 charging points already in place and more straightforward. We are determined to do all we can to make electric vehicles work for everyone and these new laws will help make this a reality.”

Another measure in the Bill covers insurance for self-driving cars. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “Automated vehicles have the potential to transform our roads in the future and make them even safer and easier to use, as well as promising new mobility for those who cannot drive.

“But we must ensure the public is protected in the event of an incident and today we are introducing the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies.”





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