Hydrogen-fuelled vehicles could see an increase in adoption after the establishment of new refuelling points at traditional filling stations, in addition to new ‘green’ vehicle funds made available for fleet operators.
The Government has announced an £8.8 million injection into a project which promises to fund 200 new hydrogen-based police cars and taxis. In March, Shell also announced the construction of a hydrogen filling station at one of its existing sites.
Supporting new vehicle procurement, filling station construction and vehicle upgrades, the Government funding is matched by a further £13.1m investment provided by a consortium of companies.
Members of the consortium awarded the funding include Shell, Element Energy, ITM Power, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota. The initiative is also partly funded by the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCHJU) and the UK’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
The latest hydrogen filling station is established at Shell Beaconsfield on the M40, representing the first site across the UK to include hydrogen fuelling capability alongside conventional petrol and diesel.
Generated on-site at Shell Beaconsfield, the hydrogen gas is created with electrolyser, water and electricity – an environmentally-friendly alternative to creating hydrogen from methane gas and transporting it across the country.
Any water used in the generation process returns to the atmosphere via the exhaust of hydrogen-based vehicles, emitted in heat and water.
Hydrogen cars operate with an electric motor, storing the energy produced in a battery, with an expected range of over 300 miles. Refuelling takes a similar amount of time to petrol or diesel cars.
Mike Copson, hydrogen business development manager at Shell, said: “We’re delighted to be opening a new refuelling site at Shell Beaconsfield, demonstrating our commitment to hydrogen as a vital part of the UK’s future transport system.
“Bringing hydrogen under the canopy for the first time is a fantastic step towards making it a convenient and viable fuel choice for UK drivers.”
Copson suggested that collaboration between fuel providers, Government and vehicle manufacturers is essential to effective provision of hydrogen vehicles and filling station coverage. Planning as a consortium will lead to fuelling points in key areas, while the longer range of fuel-cell vehicles could facilitate the connectivity of major UK cities.
The Metropolitan Police expects a 60% reduction in the number of fleet diesel vehicles by 2020.
It is estimated that around 200 new hydrogen-powered vehicles will be introduced to police and taxi fleets as a result of the Government investment.
Jesse Norman, Roads Minister, said: “Hydrogen has huge potential, especially for those making longer journeys and clocking up high mileage.”