Picture of a vehicle being refueled with hydrogen using a system like a petrol pump

BCGA welcomes moves to open roads to H-powered vehicles

Published:  30 March, 2017

A national trade body has welcomed moves to expand the availability of ultra-low emission hydrogen powered vehicles on UK roads.

The British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA), says two separate developments unveiled in March will help overcome a significant barrier currently restricting their use.

Despite the success of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) around the world, a lack of refuelling opportunities nationally has hampered their introduction in the UK.

But the BCGA says the process to address this obstacle has taken a major step forward following the Government’s announcement (18 March, 2017) of a new £23 million fund to accelerate the take-up of H-powered vehicles and roll out more cutting-edge infrastructure.

Days earlier, the situation was boosted by the ultra-low emission energy source feature in a supplement to the Blue Book.

The Blue Book offers expert information on the storage and dispensing of fuel for vehicles and the BCGA says the inclusion of hydrogen in a supplement presents another significant milestone in addressing the fuelling infrastructure shortfall.

Doug Thornton, chief executive of the BCGA, said: ‘Vehicles running on hydrogen have a realistic driving range in excess of 300 miles, which is a major benefit for drivers looking to make longer journeys using alternative-fuel vehicles.

‘They also release no Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and particulates - a problem associated with diesel cars - so they can make a significant, positive impact on air quality, particularly in towns and cities, and help address the health issues associated with air pollution.

‘As a result, uptake of hydrogen fuelled cars has made faster progress across other parts of the world, including mainland Europe, America and Japan.

‘But the lack of fuelling infrastructure nationwide has been putting the brakes on their introduction elsewhere in the UK.

‘Hydrogen-powered cars, vans, taxis and buses are already proving their value in and around London and some other areas, using trusted and time-proven technology.

‘But hydrogen needs to become available at fuel stations throughout the country and the Government’s announcement, coupled with its inclusion in the Blue Book, marks the start of the process to make this happen.

‘With the right infrastructure in place, fleet companies, public transport and car-buying consumers will be able to choose the vehicle which best suits their needs.”

The UK new car market kick-started 2017 with a milestone for alternative-fuel vehicles, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The number of new cars registered on British roads in January topped 174,564 – rising 2.9% to its highest level since 2005. The alternative-fuel vehicle market share reached over four per cent for first time and registrations were up by a fifth

Mr Thornton added: ‘There’s a clear demand for alternative-fuel vehicles, but the focus in Britain, and Government backing has, up to now, been focused on hybrid and battery electric cars.

‘Hydrogen fuel-celled vehicles offer a compelling reason for this type of technology to emerge more strongly in Britain.

‘There’s a long waiting list for cars in America and Japan, where the infrastructure is far more advanced.

‘But there are very few hydrogen cars on road in the UK at the moment so petrol stations won’t have hydrogen on pump and that affects the purchase of the cars.

‘Once more refuelling points are installed across the country, other manufacturers will perhaps look at adopting technology in their own way and that will increase the number of opportunities to refuel.’

The BCGA says industrial gases are emerging as a major force in the quest for greener transportation in the UK.

Mr Thornton added: ‘We are already seeing a surge in demand for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vehicles across the haulage and fleet industries.

‘Efficiency savings and lower emissions have led to the rise and an increasing number of fuel stations are introducing CNG and LNG dispensing systems on their sites.

‘Now hydrogen is the next logical step on the forecourt.’

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