In January 2013 the first public report of the UK H2Mobility initiative is due to be published. I am not alone in looking forward to reviewing the content of this landmark report and observing how it is received by the broad range of stakeholders with an interest in low carbon transport.
Hydrogen fuel cells offer a genuine energy efficient and zero exhaust emission alternative to petrol and diesel engines, whilst hydrogen is seen as a key means of storing energy originally generated via water electrolysis, from renewable electricity. Both fuel cells and hydrogen are written into technology roadmaps for transport and energy respectively, with technologies being demonstrated in real world applications today whilst academic and industry R&D is ongoing.
The UKH2Mobility report promises both new insights and a uniquely UK-specific roadmap for the roll out of a hydrogen-refuelling infrastructure supporting the commercial introduction of fuel cell vehicles. The report comes one year on from the launch of the initiative by industry stakeholders, who have worked behind closed doors with government engagement and support. The long gestation period between launch and first report no doubt reflects the complexity of the issues the participants will have been addressing and their need to articulate a common vision capable of withstanding intense scrutiny from interested parties from UK academia, the UK policy community, private investors, fleets and local government amongst others.
The roll out of charging points to support plug-in electric vehicle introduction has seen infrastructure deployed in a wide variety of locations through an organic process based on a mixed range of stimuli. In contrast to this, the UKH2Mobility initiative is expected to point toward a more regimented process, shaped by a Government and Industry consensus. A staged introduction of hydrogen into the transport system is likely to dictate that some geographical areas are dialled into the hydrogen economy quicker than others, based on a phased deployment of hydrogen dispensers at existing petrol station forecourts. The key is to realise hydrogen prices at the fuel pump, that make fuel cell vehicles cost competitive with alternatives. Once fuel cell engines are being mass produced these engines should cross over from cars to a wider range of vehicles, plant and equipment. London is seen as a first mover whilst a number of Scottish island communities are supporting early demonstration activities. Elsewhere in the UK a number of academic and industrial centres have fostered demonstration activities, but this may not see them attract early industry investment for fuel station and vehicle deployment.
From a fleet operator perspective it will be interesting to see how the refuelling station technology investments are proposed to be deployed with particular reference to supporting return-to-base operations. The likely choice of vehicle types and their introduction dates will also be a key point of reference.
Overall it would be unwise to speculate further as to the contents of the report, other than to predict that it definitely won't conclude that fuel cell vehicles are ten years away ....and always will be.
The recent announcements of additional Government funding for low carbon vehicle innovation highlight the strategic importance assigned to low carbon vehicle investment in the UK. The relevance of the motor industry to the UK economy is widely recognised with over one million vehicles and two million engines produced in the UK annually; and with the motor industry employing over 700,000 peopleand delivering around £12 billion in net value added to the economyeach year.
Louise Woodward, Programme Administrative Officer for Cenex, comments on the roll-out of a national charging infrastructure for electric and hybrid vehicles.
Terberg Environmental, a division of Terberg Group, based in Ijsselstein, The Netherlands and Ros Roca Environment, headquartered in Spain are intending to merge their operations.
Epping Forest District, located in the west of of Essex and neighbouring the north east Greater London Region, covers an area of just over 130 square miles and serves a population of 124,700.
Three Essex Councils have taken an innovative approach to the management of their fleet and workshops, which has resulted in tangible efficiency savings and increased delivery of service to the public. Colchester Borough Council, Braintree District Council and Basildon Borough Council were the first local authorities in the UK to think out of the box and step away from the conventional tendering process for their fleet management requirements, and were able to select the best delivery of service via competitive dialogue, reports Ann-Marie Knegt.
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