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UKH2Mobility project maps out future of hydrogen fuel cell cars, with 1.6 million on UK roads by 2030

The UKH2Mobility project has released the results of its Phase 1 interim report, evaluating the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and paving the way for commercial rollout in the UK.

The UKH2Mobility project – launched in January 2012 – brings together leading businesses from the automotive, energy, infrastructure, and retail sectors with government to provide a roadmap for the introduction of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in the UK.

This will push well beyond the recently announced London Hydrogen Network Expansion (LHNE) project, the UK's first integrated hydrogen transport system in London and the South East.

Key findings from the interim report on Phase 1 include:

  • Up to 10% of new car customers will be receptive to fuel cell cars when they are first introduced, attracted by the newness of the technology and environmental benefits. Importantly, the study quantified the impact of non-financial decisions on the amount that consumers are willing to pay for an FCEV in different circumstances.
  • Once mass production of FCEVs is established, bringing costs down, there is the potential for 1.6 million vehicles on UK roads by 2030, with annual sales of more than 300 000 fuel cell electric vehicles.
  • An initial rollout of just 65 hydrogen refuelling stations would provide sufficient coverage in line with early vehicle sales, with the network growing in line with the number of FCEVs on the road, to provide 1150 sites by 2030.
  • In the market conditions assumed in the roadmap, the hydrogen refuelling network will be able to cover its operating costs by the early 2020s, and reach breakeven in the late 2020s. The total financing needed up to the breakeven point is £418 million (US$655 million), with a relatively modest £62 million ($97 million) of this required before 2020.
  • For the first time, the benefits that hydrogen production by water electrolysis can have on the UK electricity grid were quantified, particularly with respect to the integration of generating capacity for renewable electricity.
  • FCEVs could reduce UK annual total vehicle CO2 emissions by 3 million tonnes in 2030. Replacing diesel vehicles with FCEVs could also save £100–200 million per annum in the cost of damage to air quality caused by vehicle emissions by 2050.

‘The extensive work carried out by the UKH2Mobility consortium positions the UK as a lead market for the rollout of fuel cell electric vehicles, directly contributing to national decarbonisation and air quality improvement objectives,’ comments James Batchelor, Managing Director – Motive for Intelligent Energy.

There are currently 11 industry participants in UKH2Mobility – Air Liquide, BOC, Daimler, Hyundai, Intelligent Energy, ITM Power, Johnson Matthey, the Morrisons supermarket chain, Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), and Toyota – together with three government departments and the European Fuel Cells & Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). Two of these partners – Daimler and Nissan – have just announced they are collaborating with Ford to deliver affordable FCEVs by 2017.

‘Phase 1 sows a seed for the adoption and development of a new transport system which will allow society to decarbonise road transport and clean up emissions, without disrupting its business and social routine,’ says Dr Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power.

Cooley continues: ‘Phase 2 will show how that seed can proliferate, enabling the UK to be a world leader in the deployment and manufacturing of the necessary electrolyser refuelling technology and fuel cell vehicles.’

The final report of Phase 1 is due to be published in March. In 2013 Phase 2 of UKH2Mobility will then use the information and roadmap produced in Phase 1 to develop a detailed business case and specific actions to which the participants can commit.

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Energy infrastructure  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells  •  Policy, investment and markets