First Hydrogen fuel cell LCV demonstrator

Green automotive company First Hydrogen has announced that SSE plc will be the first UK utility to trial use of its hydrogen-powered vehicle.

SSE operates one of the largest vehicle fleets in the UK and, in recognition of the role decarbonisation of transport plays in meeting net zero, has already pledged to switch 2,500 of its vehicles to electric.

During the trial, First Hydrogen’s vehicle will be deployed with SSE engineers. This is the first time the vehicle has been used for real-life fleet operations and enables First Hydrogen’s team to gather data on fuel consumption, usage, and efficiency. The information will be used to calculate total cost of ownership, a key consideration for fleet operators when purchasing vehicles.

The hydrogen-powered light commercial vehicle (LCV) will be based at the SSE site at Aberdeen, which neighbours a hydrogen fuel station. This will enable refuelling within 5-7 minutes, compared with battery electric vehicles (BEV), which typically take hours to recharge.

The fleet operator road trials have been co-ordinated through the Aggregated Hydrogen Freight Consortium (AHFC), which is working with large UK fleet operators to accelerate the adoption of hydrogen transport through vehicle deployment and refuelling infrastructure development.

According to First Hydrogen, 15 major fleet operators have expressed interest in trialling its vehicle, including companies in the grocery, parcel delivery and healthcare industries, and trials are set to take place over the next 12-18 months.

Steve Gill, CEO automotive at First Hydrogen, said: “We’re delighted to be working with energy giant SSE, which is already making great strides in switching to clean energy and decarbonising its operations. Transitioning to fossil-fuel-free transport is a major step along the road to net zero and we are pleased to help SSE become the first utility company to explore hydrogen vehicle performance alongside other alternative fuels to power its maintenance and utilities vehicles.

“We’re also thrilled to take our vehicle to Aberdeen, where so much work is already under way to champion hydrogen and know that the city council sees this trial as an important test for promoting commercial FCEVs in the area too.”

Ronnie Fleming, chief procurement officer at SSE, commented: “As part of our commitment to achieving net zero and in addition to our leading EV100 pledge, we are keen to explore all alternative fuels for our fleet. We’re looking forward to seeing the vehicles in action, for our drivers to experience how they operate in practice and for our fleet managers to evaluate how hydrogen vehicles could fit into our future fleets.”