Hydrogen transport pilots in the Tees Valley area are to go ahead after the transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the winners of a £2.5m R&D competition.
The successful trials will lead to supermarkets, emergency services and delivery companies using hydrogen-powered transport to move goods and carry out local services.
One of the most wide-ranging projects sees Toyota delivering a number of hydrogen vehicles, including a forklift truck for warehouse operations, a passenger bus and 10 fuel cell passenger cars. These will be deployed across the town’s rapid response services, such as emergency response units for the Cleveland Police and NHS patient support.
HV Systems plans to demonstrate the use of hydrogen in delivery vans in the Tees Valley area. The vans will be operated in collaboration with a leading supermarket chain, running between 19 superstores and their main distribution centre.
The project aims to show how delivery vans fitted with fuel cells can have increased range, faster refuelling times than battery-electric versions and speed parity with conventional diesel vehicles.
In collaboration with Sainsbury’s, Element Energy will also be trialling a hydrogen-powered heavy goods vehicle (HGV) in the Tees Valley area. The vehicle will be operated from a local distribution centre and will be carrying out goods deliveries in the area.
Stagecoach and Ricardo will retrofit a double-decker diesel bus with a hybrid fuel cell system. The bus will be driven on local routes and learnings from this project will support fuel cell retrofit technologies in public transport across the UK.
Shapps said: “With less than 100 days to go until COP26, I’m committed to supporting industry to develop innovative new technologies that will decarbonise transport, helping us to build back greener and level up the country.
“By harnessing the power of hydrogen technology, we can pave the way for its use across all transport modes, creating cleaner, greener more efficient transport systems across the UK.”
The funding follows the unveiling of an official masterplan for the UK’s first-ever hydrogen transport hub, which could be fully operational by 2025.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “Through trialling the use of hydrogen in transport across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, we are spearheading the path to a greener future by developing the knowledge and expertise needed to roll hydrogen out as a fuel source across the country.
“In Teesside, we already produce 50% of the UK’s hydrogen, so there is no better place for this research to take place.
“This new investment shows how Teesside is leading the way in the drive for the UK to be net zero by 2050, creating good-quality, well-paid, clean energy jobs in the process.”