The government is investing £2.5 million in hydrogen-powered buses, delivery vehicles and even police cars, the Department for Transport has confirmed. Trials announced this week will see vehicles normally powered by petrol or diesel converted to hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Taking place in the Tees Valley area of north-east England, the vehicles involved will include a double-decker diesel bus that will be retrofitted with a hybrid fuel cell system. The fuel cells will mix hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity, with the sole emission being water. The bus will be used on local routes, with the results of the trial used to support fuel cell retrofitting projects across the country.

Other vehicles up for modification include delivery vans and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). HV Systems plans to demonstrate the use of hydrogen in delivery vans with a supermarket chain, running between 19 superstores and their main distribution centre, while Element Energy and Sainsbury’s will trial a hydrogen-powered HGV.

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Even police cars and ambulances are set to get hydrogen power, with Cleveland Police and NHS patient support getting some Toyota hydrogen vehicles for use as rapid response cars. In addition, Toyota will also deliver other hydrogen-powered vehicles including a forklift truck for warehouse operations and a passenger bus.

“With less than 100 days to go until COP26 [the climate summit],” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, “I’m committed to supporting industry to develop innovative new technologies that will decarbonise transport, helping us to build back greener and level up the country. By harnessing the power of hydrogen technology, we can pave the way for its use across all transport modes, creating cleaner, greener, more efficient transport systems across the UK.”

Meanwhile Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said the trials would put the region at the cutting edge of green transport development.

“Through trialling the use of hydrogen in transport across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, we are spearheading the path to a greener future by developing the knowledge and expertise needed to roll hydrogen out as a fuel source across the country,” he said. “In Teesside, we already produce 50 percent of the UK’s hydrogen, so there is no better place for this research to take place. This new investment shows how Teesside is leading the way in the drive for the UK to be net zero by 2050, creating good-quality, well-paid, clean energy jobs in the process.”