The Government will not meet its target of 65 operational hydrogen refuelling stations by 2020 unless funding is increased, one of the main companies involved in the sector has warned.

ITM Power, which supplied the equipment for Shell’s hydrogen refuelling site at its Cobham services on the M25 (above), has called on the government to provide equivalent financial support for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) infrastructure as it has already provided for plug-in battery electric vehicle (BEV) infrastructure.

ITM was responding to the publication by the UK Government of a revised Air Quality Plan, under which the sale of petrol and diesel passenger cars will be banned by 2040.

It said the Air Quality Plan, which would ban all new non-zero emission passenger cars by 2040, represents an historic first step towards a cleaner and greener transport in the UK.

It added that equivalent funding would satisfy the UK Government’s stated position of being technology agnostic, and that FCEVs had significant advantages over BEVs.

Refuelling time is seen as a key advantage of hydrogen electric drivetrains. Most FCEVs can be refuelled in three minutes, allowing for fuel forecourt dispensing as refuelling takes a similar time to petrol and diesel. ITM said that even with fast chargers, residing on forecourts for 30 minutes is impractical and so charging (for passenger cars) is likely to be at home, with limited range.

It also claimed electrolytic hydrogen, made onsite, now has cost parity with petrol and diesel in many parts of the world including the UK.

It added that it recognised that BEVs have a major role to play in cities to improve air quality and where range considerations and recharging times are less important. However, FCEVs are the only currently available technology which can cost effectively address larger vehicles such as delivery vans and buses in city centres and long-haul commercial vehicles throughout the UK.