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North West Hydrogen Alliance calls on UK government to kickstart hydrogen transport revolution

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The North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) has called on the UK government to take urgent action to support the roll out of hydrogen vehicles once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, to capitalise on the ‘green gains’ many areas have experienced during lockdown.

Coronavirus lockdown has seen many areas in the UK and worldwide see up to an 80% drop in traffic and pollution levels, and according to the NWHA the country now has a chance to push forth with a new green agenda once the restrictions are lifted and achieve longer term environmental benefits.

The UK government’s coronavirus response has demonstrated it is prepared to make a significant financial investment when faced with a crisis, and with climate change likely to be back to the top of the agenda once the pandemic is over, the NWHA is calling on government to invest in hydrogen to power up the economy as part of the country’s recovery plan.

In its recently published report,
A Hydrogen Mobility Roadmap, the NWHA has set out some clear, ‘quick and easy’ steps that are needed to underpin investment and industry take up of hydrogen in the transport sector, which it argues is essential if the UK wishes to sustain the improvement of its air quality as seen over the past few weeks.

As well as improving local air quality on roads and railways, with water as the only emission, wider roll-out of hydrogen will be essential to meeting UK net zero carbon targets, says the NWHA. The roadmap could avoid the emission of 0.3mn t/y of CO
2 from the transport sector by 2030 in the North West alone, it claims.

During normal levels of activity, the transport sector is the biggest contributor to climate change in the UK and the report sets out the need for both electric and hydrogen vehicles in meeting net zero emissions targets. It states that while the roll out of electric cars is significantly ahead of hydrogen cars, there are other forms of transport, such as HGVs and trains, to which hydrogen is potentially better suited due to longer running distances and faster refuelling. Hydrogen is also suited for use in the marine sector.

The report sets out a series of actions that government and industry will need to take to enable widespread deployment of hydrogen vehicles, with some quick wins which means the government can take rapid action on climate change while supporting the economic recovery after COVID-19. While Government policy supports renewable fuels through the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), this currently does not apply to all forms of low carbon hydrogen, notes the NWHA.

As a result, it is calling upon the UK government to amend the current RTFO guidance to include renewable (or ‘green’) hydrogen as a vehicle fuel. It also calls for this support to be extended to trains and ships via planned legislative changes in 2020–2021, and include a statement of intent to support low carbon ‘blue’ hydrogen which will be produced in the North West under the HyNet project from 2025. This approach, it argues, will provide a strong driver for manufacturers and fleet operators to make the necessary investment decisions.

Alstom in Widnes is ready to deploy its new Breeze trains and is working with Northern Rail to identify routes that are suitable for conversion to hydrogen
Photo: NWHA

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