UK govt awards £8 m to FCEV projects in Tees Valley

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The UK government has announced two winning projects of a 8 million pound competition (about 9,27 million euros) to support hydrogen-powered transport in the North East. This includes a project to develop airport support vehicles, as well as a project to build four publicly accessible hydrogen stations for a wide range of vehicle types.

This is the second round of grants as part of a push to put Tees Valley at the forefront of developing hydrogen tech. Tees Valley marks the northeastern region around the river Tees that leads out to Teesport, amongst the ten biggest ports in Western Europe due to the local steel and chemical industries. These factors, and the local airport, make the region interesting for the hydrogen economy since not only heavy-duty road transport but also maritime, aviation and steel production applications can most effectively use green hydrogen and related derivatives for decarbonisation.

The UK government outlines the Hydrogen Transport Hub as a “living lab of regional, national and international significance that acts as a catalyst for the fulfilment of green hydrogen’s role in decarbonising transport across modes.” The government’s Masterplan for the hub includes hydrogen technology for transport with light goods vehicles (LGVs) and intensively used passenger vehicles, buses, multiple trials with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) for shorter and longer distances, rail, domestic shipping and domestic aviation.

This most recent round of grants was awarded by means of a competition on “how to overcome some of the challenges of scaling-up hydrogen technology, such as refuelling on a large scale and making the region’s supply chain greener with hydrogen-fuelled vans and HGVs.”

One of the projects is located at Teeside international airport and, led by ULEMCo, has been awarded a portion of the 8 million pounds in funding to further develop hydrogen-powered airport ground-based support vehicles, such as tow trucks for aeroplanes and sweepers to clean runways. Press reports from 2021 indicate ULEMCo has ordered fuel cell units from Toyota. Earlier this year, ULEMCo was contracted to convert the Aberdeen City utility fleet to hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The second winning project is led by Element 2, a company building a hydrogen refuelling network dedicated to using green hydrogen from local and national producers “to create the cornerstone for the decarbonisation of heavy transport”, as the company says on its website. The project now funded should create four new publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations that will be used to fuel a range of vehicles, from airside vehicles to HGVs, including supermarket delivery trucks.

This is the second round of government competition funding for the Tees Valley hydrogen transport hub and follows projects focussed on developing hydrogen-powered vehicles. One of the first round of grants was awarded to Toyota to provide hydrogen vehicles for local police forces, as well as to Hydrogen Vehicle Systems, which developed a hydrogen-powered van for large-scale grocery deliveries.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Our airport and, indeed, our whole region continues to be at the forefront of the UK’s net zero ambitions and this hydrogen station is another step forward to supporting the cleaner, healthier and safer industries of tomorrow. It backs up everything we’re doing in our low-carbon journey, including supporting the production and adoption of sustainable aviation fuel – one of the biggest issues facing the industry right now.”

The UK government is aiming to envirgourate the job market and workforce in the region with the hydrogen valley, confirming 300,000 pounds (347,685 euros) for colleges in the area to support upskilling the local workforce. This should “foster a specialised skills base and pipeline of talent, further cementing the Tees Valley’s status as the home of hydrogen.”


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