Plans to make nearly every vehicle in the UK zero-emission by 2050 have taken a further step forward, following the launch of a £2m (US$2.9m) government fund to encourage more businesses to switch to hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
The UK government’s Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) Fleet Support Scheme will allow local authorities, health trusts, police forces, fire brigades and private companies to bid for funding to add hydrogen-powered vehicles to their fleets. The new fund, launched by the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), could bring up to 100 more hydrogen fuel cell cars and vans onto the country’s roads by next spring; the equivalent of tripling the number of vehicles currently in use.
Zero-emission hydrogen vehicles are cleaner and greener than standard vehicles, and the UK is leading the way in the introduction of this technology. The new fund comes after the government committed £5m (US$7.2m) in 2014 through the Hydrogen for Transport Advancement Program for 12 hydrogen refueling stations. UK Transport Minister Andrew Jones (pictured) has now opened the second of these stations at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. All 12 stations are expected to be open by the end of the year, which is a significant step toward a national network.
The new funding will cover up to 75% of the costs of new vehicles bought by April 2017, as well as the cost of running them for up to three years. Support will also be available for the leasing or renting of vehicles, insurance, hydrogen fuel and servicing. FCEVs emit no CO? or other harmful pollutants, and the only by-product is pure water vapor. They also offer a driving range of more than 300 miles (483km), and can be refueled in five minutes using a hydrogen gas pump, which is similar to a conventional petrol pump.
The market and technology for hydrogen FCEVs is new, but slowly gathering pace worldwide. Vehicle manufacturers have so far introduced a small number of models, with global production currently limited to just a few thousand units. The UK is one of only five launch markets for these vehicles: Toyota’s Mirai and Hyundai’s iX35 Fuel Cell are currently the only FCEV models for sale in the UK, but more are due to follow in the near future. Applications for the FCEV Fleet Support Scheme must be submitted by July 3, and successful bidders will be informed later this year.
Opening the new hydrogen refueling station, Jones said, “We are always looking at new ways to make the vehicles of the future cleaner, and hydrogen fuel cells are an important part of our vision for almost all cars and vans to be zero-emission by 2050. This funding, along with the growing network of hydrogen refueling stations opening in England, will help businesses and the public sector to get on board with this exciting technology. This is further proof that we are leading the way in making journeys cleaner and protecting the environment.”