When the UK Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy announced its vision for a world-leading hydrogen economy last August; it was a landmark moment & recognition of the need for a low carbon hydrogen sector in the UK.
In November 2020 the UK Government announced its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution in & in point two of the plan they laid out their plans for a low carbon hydrogen economy:
‘Working alongside partners in industry, our aim is for the UK to develop 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 that could see the UK benefit from around 8,000 jobs across our industrial heartlands and beyond.
This will be supported by a range of measures, including a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, and setting out next year, our hydrogen business models and a revenue mechanism for them to bring through private sector investment. ‘(1)
Hydrogen has become a buzz word in industry, manufacturing, heating & transport sectors alike. Many of the leading heavy duty & off-highway manufacturers such as JCB, Cummins, Iveco Group & CNH Industrial, already have hydrogen fuelled vehicles in their fleets & with more investment in hydrogen only going to strengthen it’s use as a low carbon fuel; the hydrogen economy can only continue to grow.
Government analysis suggests that 20-35% of the UK’s energy consumption by 2050 could be hydrogen-based, helping to cut emissions by 78% by 2035.
Providing support to polluting industries to significantly slash their emissions, BEIS announced last year a £105 million funding package through the UK Government Net Zero Innovation Portfolio which would act as a first step to build up Britain’s low carbon hydrogen economy. The investment is intended to help industries to develop low carbon alternatives for industrial fuels, including hydrogen, which will be key to meeting climate commitments. (2)
One area that significantly affects the off-highway & heavy duty sectors, was the announcement of a £40M Red Diesel Replacement Competition (August 2021)
Red diesel is reportedly responsible for the production of nearly 14 million tonnes of carbon each year & being a fuel used primarily for such off-highway purposes as bulldozers – an essential land moving utility used for construction – alternative fuels which have a proven track record are needed to be sought.
Providing grant funding for the development & demonstration of low carbon alternatives to diesel for the construction, quarrying & mining sectors, the UK Government competition was designed with the aim of decarbonising industries reliant on red diesel & providing a platform for alternative research & development in this area. (2)
Hydrogen has already been used to great affect in inner city transport, in particular in buses. During an interview with South East Today (12.10.2021) Patrick Warner – Head of Innovation & Strategy, Brighton & Hove – gave his insights as to why Brighton & Hove were pursuing the hydrogen route, rather than electrification for their 400 strong bus fleet.
“What our trials found with electric was that these vehicles weren’t capable of doing more than about half a day’s work here in Brighton, so totally unsuitable & we would require a fleet almost double the size than we currently have in Brighton today” (1)
“What we now have got is a vehicle which can do anything our diesel fleet can do, can refuel in the same time it takes to refill a tank of diesel, but with absolutely no emissions, apart from a small amount of water vapour” (3)
As the UK Government continues to roll out it’s support for R&D in the hydrogen sector, they have also supported supermarkets, emergency services & delivery companies to trial hydrogen-powered transport solutions in the Tees Valley area. The North East, which produces more than half of the UK’s hydrogen being an obvious option for the experiments. (4)
Supermarket giant ASDA became the first UK retailer to use hydrogen fuel cells to power manual handling equipment, reducing its carbon footprint in the area by 80%. (5)
The six-month trial took place at its Skelmersdale Chilled Distribution Centre (CDC) in Greater Manchester & the cells were used to power equipment such as forklift trucks & order pickers.
In addition to this, a forklift truck for warehouse operations, passenger bus, & 10 fuel cell passenger cars were among the hydrogen vehicles Toyota deployed as part of one of the most extensive hydrogen research trials.
The hydrogen powered vehicles were given to the town’s emergency response services, such as the Cleveland Police Department’s emergency response teams & NHS patient assistance & the ongoing e goal of the research is to show how fuel cell-powered delivery vans have the potential to outperform conventional diesel vehicles in terms of range, refuelling periods, & speed.
Written & cited by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2.