More than £85 million has been invested in the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technologies since 2009, according to the government.
In a written answer to parliament on Wednesday (April 24), transport secretary Norman Baker said that £41 million of this investment had been provided by the Technology Strategy Board and co-funding partner the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), with the remaining investment money coming from industry.
He added that the Technology Strategy Board would also be investing a further £4.5 million into activity supporting fuel cell manufacturing and £5 million into technologies enabling the market for hydrogen in the financial year 2013/14.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) are considered by some as a possible long-term successor to diesel and petrol passenger vehicles, as they produce zero emissions at the tailpipe, thereby causing a smaller impact on air quality.
Mr Baker’s comments came in response to a written question from Conservative MP for Swindon North, Justin Tomlinson, who wrote: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Government (a) has invested and (b) plans to invest in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technologies.”
In response, Mr Baker said: “Fuel cells and hydrogen technologies are a part of the Technology Strategy Board’s energy strategy and further investments into this area are anticipated during the current spending review period, to continue to support UK companies developing products for this growing global market.”
Mr Baker also revealed that the total cost of UK’s first open access hydrogen refuelling station in Swindon, which was awarded funding in July 2012, was £3.5 million. £1.7 million of this was provided through a government grant.
“It is one of five projects funded in a programme with a total value, including business contributions, of over £19m – with grant funding of £7.5m from the Technology Strategy Board and £1.5m from DECC,” he added.
Mr Baker’s comments follow the publication this week of the UKH2Mobility report on hydrogen vehicles by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The report was produced to provide a roadmap for the introduction of vehicles and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in the UK, and reaffirms the government’s expectation that more than 1.5 million hydrogen powered cars will be on UK roads by 2030 (see airqualitynews.com story).
Commenting yesterday (April 26) on the publication of the report, business and energy minister Michael Fallon said: “Securing new economic opportunities for the UK, diversifying our national energy supply and driving down carbon emissions go to the heart of my job in government. The findings of the report demonstrate hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can have a real impact on all three.
He added: “Prompt action is needed to ensure the potential benefits are realised by businesses and consumers in the UK and work on the next phase will start straight away.”
As part of the launch of the report, it was also announced that supermarket Sainsbury’s had joined the 11 existing industry participants on the UKH2Mobility project alongside BIS, the Department for Transport (DfT) and DECC.
Other industry participants in the project include supermarket Morrisons, hydrogen energy firm ITM Power and car manufacturers Hyundai, Toyota and Nissan.
Mr Fallon said: “It is very positive that all the UKH2Mobility partners will be joining us in the next phase of the project where they will be joined by Sainsbury’s. Successful commercialisation of the technology will require government to work in strong partnership with industry.”
Sainsbury’s head of fuel, Richard Crampton, added: “At Sainsbury’s we are always looking for solutions that reduce our impact on the environment and help our customers to live more sustainably. We currently have 280 filling stations serving customers throughout the UK and believe that exploring greener fuels today is fundamental to the long-term sustainability of our business.”