Hydrogen vehicles to play ‘major role’ with calls for ‘longer-term’ plans to use new fuel source

Hydrogen vehicle

There are hopes that the Government will unveil hydrogen plans

PA
Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves


Published: 19/11/2023

- 10:00

Updated: 06/03/2024

- 08:57

The Government estimates there are around 300 hydrogen vehicles around the UK

Experts are considering whether the Government will pledge to back the development of hydrogen vehicles and refuelling infrastructure around the UK in the upcoming Budget.

An updated, 2023 version of the UK Hydrogen Strategy was published earlier this year which analysed how hydrogen could play a role in the decarbonisation effort.


It stated that Government funding was likely if the technology is proven and the UK can drive innovation, with many hoping for updated guidance in the coming Autumn Statement, on November 22.

The Government intends to publish a Zero Emission HGV Infrastructure Strategy in early 2024 to outline the “roles and responsibilities” of the industry in the deployment of the relevant network.

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Wrightbus, spoke to GB News about the future of hydrogen vehicles and how the UK could embrace the emerging fuel technology.

He said: “The UK Net Zero Hydrogen Fund is vital for businesses like ours, as it seeks to improve the supply chain for hydrogen, which has a major role to play in decarbonising transport.

“Going forward, we would like to see a longer-term funding plan, and consideration of a yearly plan for the number of zero emission buses the UK Government wants to see enter service.

“This would allow UK manufacturers to efficiently plan the scaling up of manufacturing facilities and drive greater investment into our domestic supply chain.”

Wrightbus has been a pioneer for hydrogen fuel cell technology, positioning itself as an industry leader in decarbonising public transport.

Its StreetDeck Hydroliner is the world's first hydrogen double-decker bus, in addition to its Electroliner EV bus.

The company recently secured a new deal with Transport for London partner Abellio to deliver 80 new electric buses to hit the streets of the capital.

There have been calls for the Government to invest in hydrogen with Conservative MP Siobhan Baillie recently asking Rishi Sunak about funding more hydrogen projects.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions last month, she said: "The UK is at risk of being left behind on hydrogen engines, hydrogen ICE.

“The EU and USA are now recognising hydrogen combustion engines are zero emissions and are supporting their industries as all viable zero carbon technologies will be needed particularly for our HGVs, according to the RHA.

“Will my right honourable friend commit to urgently extending the scope of the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) industrialisation grants to include hydrogen engines so we win the ICE race?”

The Prime Minister said the Government would look at future possibilities to ensure the UK remains one of the best locations for automotive manufacturing.

He pointed to the ATF and the benefits it has already given, most notably a £60million investment for Johnson Matthey to develop hydrogen technologies in Hertfordshire.

There are also further plans for the development of hydrogen refuelling stations along major routes across the UK to help support existing vehicles and give reassurance to those looking to transition to hydrogen.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:

King Charles in an hydrogen vehicle

King Charles in a hydrogen vehicle 

PA

Shropshire Council has formed a consortium to look into installing a refuelling station in the area thanks to its benefits along the A5 international transport corridor.

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