Well that was a bit of a shocker the government consulting on plans to force larger service stations, supermarket forecourts and motorway service areas to provide hydrogen refuelling facilities and charging points for electric vehicles (see News Extra on page 10). The measures are included in a consultation document for the Modern Transport Bill, due in Parliament next year, and interested parties only have until November 23 to submit their views.
While it’s laudable that the government should be trying to be force the issue concerning more environmentally-friendly transport and there maybe some rather attractive incentives for fuel retailers it doesn’t exactly have a good track record on forcing the issue on fuel emissions.
In the ’90s it offered grants to encourage greater take-up of LPG a low-carbon, low-emission fuel that is already readily available. Some retailers invested in LPG technology on the understanding that this would play a significant role in the road fuels of the future. But the grants were suddenly removed, leaving the LPG sector clearly miffed, and fighting ever since to get its voice heard.
Then came the encouragement to use diesel fuel via company car taxation to great effect in that diesel sales have overtaken the once-dominant petrol sales. But we can all see where that policy is heading with mayors of major cities calling for a ban on diesel-fuelled vehicles. The government of the time was so focused on reducing greenhouse gases that it failed to recognise the harm done by the NOx emissions that spew out of diesel vehicles.
While installing electric charging points is no big deal the technology is already here there are so many question marks over hydrogen refuelling technology. It sounds good, but there is much work to do to make it a widely workable solution. Hydrogen pumps are currently only accessible with a special key and how many hydrogen-fuelled vehicles are there likely to be on the road anytime soon...?