UK Government launches £2 million competition to promote roll-out of hydrogen-fuelled fleet vehicles

The UK Government has just launched a £2 million competition to promote roll-out of hydrogen-fuelled fleet vehicles. Public and private sector fleets can get up to 75% off the cost of zero-emission fuel cell electric vehicles.

The £2 million fund was launched by the UK Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) on Tuesday 10th May 2016, to encourage more businesses to switch to hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. The 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. This could bring up to 100 more hydrogen fuel cell cars and vans onto our roads by next spring – the equivalent of tripling the number of vehicles currently in use.

Transport Minister Andrew 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 refuelling 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.’

The money 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 3 years. Support will also be available for the leasing or renting of vehicles, insurance, hydrogen fuel and servicing. This OLEV support for research and development of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEV), as well as supporting infrastructure and the market for these vehicles, make the UK one of the most attractive places to invest in ULEV technology in the world.

Bids for the FCEV Fleet Support Scheme must be submitted by Monday 4th July 2016, and there will also be a workshop for potential applicants on Friday 27th May. Successful bidders will be informed later this year.

Link to Guidance Note for Applicants is here! 

A model for an integrated wind+hydrogen network for the UK

For all the strides being made in hydrogen fuel cell transportation, we are still a long, long way from having hydrogen form a central pillar in our energy infrastructure. What would the UK look like with a hydrogen based transport sector? Is it even possible, let alone feasible?

To try and answer that question, a partnership between engineering and business researchers at Imperial College have produced a 30 page analysis entitled ‘Optimal design and operation of integrated wind-hydrogen-electricity networks for decarbonising the domestic transport sector in Great Britain’, published in this month’s International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

The ambitious model hypothesised a closed-loop hydrogen sector, where the UK’s fuel cell vehicle fleet is powered by hydrogen produced by wind power. The modellers converted all UK petrol demand into equivalent hydrogen demand, based on average fuel economies of current petrol and fuel cell cars. To meet that demand, they then sought to determine the optimal number, size and location of wind turbines, electrolysers, hydrogen storage, fuel cells, compressors and expanders. Their conclusion,

Results indicate that all of Britain’s domestic transport demand can be met by on-shore wind through appropriately designed and operated hydrogen-electricity networks. Within the set of technologies considered, the optimal solution is: to build a hydrogen pipeline network in the south of England and Wales; to supply the Midlands and Greater London with hydrogen from the pipeline network alone; to use Humbly Grove underground storage for seasonal storage and pressurised vessels at different locations for hourly balancing as well as seasonal storage; for Northern Wales, Northern England and Scotland to be self-sufficient, generating and storing all of the hydrogen locally. These results may change with the inclusion of more technologies, such as electricity storage and electric vehicles.

Optimal distribution network for hydrogen economy.
Fig 1: Optimal distribution network for hydrogen economy (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360319915300574)

The envisioned pipeline, indicated by the red line across the south of England in the figure above, would be needed to supply the UK’s southern urban centres.

How much would all this cost? The modellers have suggested £17.1 bn/yr once the infrastructure is up and running, itself budgeted at £4.7 billion. This includes the use of large, underground reservoirs to store hydrogen in winter, when demand is lowest, and release it out during the summer months. Without storage reservoirs, the estimated cost of the network rises by 25% to meet peak demand.

Such a radical overhaul of the UKs transport and energy sectors is unlikely in the short term, to say the least, but such concrete proposals give policymakers a starting point to consider the matter more seriously. To see the full list of assumptions, calculations and conclusions in the model, you can read the full paper at the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy here.

The H2FC SUPERGEN Researcher Conference brings together the UK’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Community

One hundred and eighty three Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Researchers descended on the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Birmingham earlier this week for the ‘first of its kind event’ that centred around early career researchers, postdocs and PhD students in the field.

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Caption: Prof Nigel Brandon (Imperial), Director of H2FC SUPERGEN gives a talk on ‘The role of Hydrogen & Fuel Cell technology in low carbon energy systems’

The event that ran from Monday 16th-Wednesday 18th December,  consisted of presentations from prestigious keynote speakers from both academia and industry, a passionate panel discussion with newly appointed academics, 23 presentations from PhD students and PostDocs, several poster sessions with over 90 posters and of course a conference dinner that took place at the nearby Edgbaston Cricket Stadium.

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H2FC SUPERGEN represents UK in UK-KOREA MoU signing in Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

Yesterday saw the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Hydrogen & Fuel Cells at Lancaster House, in which H2FC SUPERGEN represented the Uk’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell research comminity.

The signing of the agreement was witnessed  by Edward Davey, Secretary of State for the Department Energy and Climate Change and was brought about to  strengthen  cooperation between the UK and South Korea in the fields of hydrogen and fuel cells.

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Events at Imperial College and St Andrews to follow the signing of H2FC SUPERGEN UK-Korea MoU in Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

We are excited to announce that the UK (through H2FC SUPERGEN) and Korea will be signing a high level MOU in the area of Hydrogen & Fuel Cells on Wednesday 6th November in London. To mark the agreement of the MOU two open events at Imperial and St Andrews  will take place with the aim of stimulating further collaborations between the UK and Korea in the area:

Roundtable discussion, 6th November, Imperial College London 13:00.15:30

(Solar Room, 170 Queens Gate, London SW7 5HF)

To help prioritise areas for collaboration between the UK and Korea, a roundtable discussion will take place on Nov 6th at Imperial College London. We anticipate that funding agencies from both the UK and Korea will be present, alongside key industrialists and academics from both countries. Please contact Dr Chloe Stockford (c.stockford@imperial.ac.uk) to attend and for more information.

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