UK government announces £23 million to accelerate hydrogen cars and infrastructure

20 March 2017

20 March 2017

The UK government has announced a new £23 million (€26.5 million) fund to increase the rate of uptake of hydrogen vehicles and boost hydrogen infrastructure. It forms part of the UK’s goal to achieve zero emissions on ′almost all new cars and vans’ by 2040. 

The competition for funding will be launched this summer.  The government will invite proposals from public and private organisations and hydrogen operators and will provide match funding for successful bidders. Fuel providers will be able to bid for funding in partnership with vehicle manufacturers to create hydrogen infrastructure, including refuelling stations. 

UK Transport Minister John Hayes said: ′The transition to zero emission road transport is both inevitable and desirable as it will improve air quality in many of our towns and cities. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can play a vital role alongside battery electric vehicles to help us cut harmful emissions. 

′We know availability of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure can be a potential obstacle to the take up of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. That’s why we’re providing support to give interested parties the confidence to continue to invest in this new emerging technology.’ 

Hydrogen cars have a range of around 300 miles per tank, in line with conventional vehicles.  They can be refuelled at pumps like conventional petrol or diesel cars, which alleviates the range and recharging time anxieties associated with electric vehicles (EVs). 

With Toyota being a leading hydrogen proponent, its UK president and managing director Paul Van der Burgh said: ′We chose the UK as one of the first international markets for our Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car and are pleased that the government is investing in this programme to encourage the further development of refuelling infrastructure and the wider uptake of fuel cell vehicles.’ 

The UK is currently undergoing several low emission transport policy initiatives. As part of its plan to be a major base for the development of new energy technologies, the government has doubled support for energy innovation, including investing £600 million to support accelerating the transition to low emission vehicles. This includes £390 million (€449 million) announced in 2016’s Autumn Statement for ultra low vehicles (£270 million (€311 million)) and driverless cars. 

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles is already delivering EV grants and research and development funding competitions, as well as investigating the impacts and opportunities of the shift to EVs. It is also responsible for schemes to continue the further roll-out of public EV charging points. In addition to these, it is also exploring the potential opportunities of hydrogen fuel technologies across a wide range of applications including heating, energy storage and transportation.