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We need national hydrogen transport to drive decarbonisation, industry expert urges Government

09 March 2023

According to a new report, the UK needs a coordinated hydrogen transport strategy to reach its net zero goals.

(Image: Shutterstock)
(Image: Shutterstock)

Hydrogen has a critical role to play in the decarbonisation of transport. Hydrogen is expected to be the dominant technology choice for several transport modes, including HGVs, aviation and maritime through derivatives. 

It is also expected to play a role alongside electrification in trains, buses and commercial vehicles.
The Hydrogen Transport Benchmarking report, undertaken by Hydrogen UK and its members, makes three key recommendations to ensure the successful implementation of hydrogen within the UK transport sector: 

• Publish a 'Hydrogen in Transport' strategy cutting across all modes of transport enabling synergies to be identified and built upon
• Establish a minimum viable network of 200, >1 tonne per day capacity, hydrogen refuelling stations by 2030
• Ensure the rollout of more hydrogen ecosystems like the Tees Valley project which attempt to aggregate various hydrogen demands to de-risk supply investment

Allan Rushforth, Chief Commercial Officer at First Hydrogen, said: “It’s valuable that Hydrogen UK has gathered input from industry participants who are on the operational front line and can provide an accurate view of the challenges and opportunities hydrogen adoption presents. 

“The UK urgently needs to develop a national Hydrogen Transport strategy if it wants to deliver the opportunities of job creation and economic growth that the sector offers. 

“Successful deployment requires coordination between transport networks and energy production, together with a combination of H2 refuelling on trunk roads and at zero emission fleet depots. 

“Without this, hydrogen ecosystems, such as Tees Valley and urban Ultra Low Emission Zones, will not deliver the potential boost to regional and national growth, or indeed net zero target achievement, that can be achieved with greater engagement from Government.” 

The report presents a high-level overview of the UK’s current global position, benchmarking our hydrogen transport deployment and hydrogen-related transport policies against other international economies. 

It is intended to act as a springboard for further analysis and spark debate with key government and industry stakeholders.

Throughout 2023, the Hydrogen UK Transport Working Group will be exploring various topics, including: 

• Helping shape policy in areas where hydrogen is an emerging and promising transport solution (construction equipment, aviation, maritime and commercial vehicles)
• Identifying synergies in using hydrogen between different transport sectors such as maritime and freight vehicles
Andy Walker, Technology Market Insights Director at Johnson Matthey, said: “The UK got off to a great start in the clean hydrogen race, but now needs to accelerate urgently to avoid being left behind as other nations start to implement their National Hydrogen Strategies and provide policy support. 

“This Hydrogen Transport Benchmarking Report provides an excellent overview of the progress made worldwide in using hydrogen as a transport fuel and highlights the need for the UK to do more in this critical area if we are going to be serious players in what will be a very large global market, as clean hydrogen plays an increasingly major role in the decarbonisation of transport going forward.” 

Harsh Pershad, Head of Hydrogen at Tevva, concluded: “Hydrogen can play multiple roles in helping to decarbonise the economy. Worldwide, around a fifth of CO2 emissions comes from trucks, and McKinsey and the Hydrogen Council believe the most competitive use of hydrogen lies in decarbonising trucks. 

“Hydrogen UK’s up-to-date statistics compare the numbers of hydrogen stations and vehicles of different types in different countries in 2022. 

“Today, the UK has pockets of Megawatt (MW)-scale hydrogen activities, that are evolving alongside ambitious proposals for Gigawatt (GW)-scale low carbon hydrogen clusters by 2030. 

“Learning from initiatives in Europe, Asia and North America, as well as the UK’s own experiences, co-ordination is vital to minimise costs and maximise the benefits of hydrogen infrastructure.

“The opportunity is now for UK central, regional and local government bodies and industry to plan and invest jointly to grow hydrogen transport systems holistically.” 

This report marks the third in a series of reports from Hydrogen UK (HUK) – the UK’s largest and leading hydrogen trade association – that it will be publishing throughout 2023. The previous report, Recommendations for the Acceleration of Hydrogen Networks, was released in January 2023. The full Networks Report can be read here

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