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UK plans 1.6 million hydrogen cars by 2030

More than one and a half million hydrogen-fuelled vehicles could be on UK roads by 2030, according to a new joint Government-industry study published today.

The new UKH2Mobility project has laid out its Phase 1 of its roadmap to FCEVs (fuel cell electric vehicles) detailing how it envisages that the UK can take a leading role in both R&D and manufacture of hydrogen cars and encourage take-up among the country’s motorists.

A Mercedes B-Class F-Cell FCEV car on the road

Coming soon

The market launch of hydrogen-fuelled cars is expected to begin from next year, with Mercedes-Benz to be the first with its B-Class F-Cell (pictured above), while carmakers including Toyota, Hyundai and Honda, who already have test fleets running, will begin market introduction from 2015.

Collaborating on the project is a wide range of automotive, energy, infrastructure and retail companies along with three Government departments. Partners include; -Air Liquide, Daimler, Hyundai, Intelligent Energy, ITM Power, Johnson Matthey, Morrisons, Nissan, Scottish & Southern Energy, BOC Group and Toyota working alongside The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Department for Transport and the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

The Toyota FCV-R fuel cell concept-one of the cars which could arrive on the market soonIt is expected that around 10 per cent of new car customers would be receptive to the idea of FCEVs when they first arrive on the market, and these ‘early adopters’ would help foster market confidence and encourage more buyers.

To support these early adopters, there should be an initial network of around 65 refuelling stations, focused around major conurbations and major trunk roads. This network would grow in line with FCEVs numbers to 1,150 refuelling sites by 2030.

By 2013, it is expected that annual sales of fuel cell vehicles will reach 330,000, with around 1.6 million hydrogen cars already on the roads.

Around £400m will be needed to finance and install this hydrogen network.

 

Carbon-free by 2050

All of this will be good news for the environment, with this switch to hydrogen expected to reduce annual total vehicle CO2 emissions by three million tonnes by the same year.

We'll need more refuelling stations like this one for FCEVs to go on the road

Replacing diesel vehicles with FCEVs could also save between £100 million and £200 million a year in the cost of damage to air quality caused by vehicle emissions by 2050. While FCEVs produce no tailpipe emissions, some forms of hydrogen extraction do. The consortium envisage that hydrogen production energy mix will be 51 per cent water electrolysis, 47 per cent steam methane reforming (SMR) and 2 per cent existing capacities by 2030. That will mean that hydrogen fuel can be generated at a cost competitive with diesel but with  60 per cent lower CO2 emissions by 2020, improving to 75 per cent less by 2030. By 2050, it is expected that hydrogen production would be zero emission by 2050, thanks to the use of renewable energies such as wind and solar to power electrolysis.

Announcing the release of the new report, Business Minister Michael Fallon said:
“The transition to ultra-low emission vehicles has already begun. It has the potential to create really significant new economic opportunities for the UK, to diversify national energy supply and to decarbonise road transport. The findings released today demonstrate that hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can make a significant contribution to this.


“Successful commercialisation of the technology will require Government to work in true partnership with industry. Our international rivals are looking to steal a march in this area and so UKH2Mobility recognises the importance of prompt action to ensure the potential benefits are realised by businesses and consumers in the UK.”

A final report of Phase 1 is due to be published in March. Phase 2 of UKH2Mobility will then use the information and roadmap produced in Phase 1 to develop a detailed business case and specific actions for participants to commit to.

The full report is available here: Phase 1

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: Fuel Cells, Hydrogen cars

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