£8m for hydrogen-powered transport in Teeside

ULEMCo and Element 2 win government funding to provide green-powered vehicles and new hydrogen refuelling stations as part of concerted effort to decarbonise transport.

The ULEMCo project will provide hydrogen-powered vehicles such as tow trucks for aeroplanes and sweepers to clean runways, to Teesside international airport. Element 2 will create four publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations that will fuel everything from airside vehicles to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) including supermarket delivery trucks.

chemistry, molecules, hydrogen

Photo by geralt

Hydrogen fuel cells generate no harmful emissions and already used in buses across the UK. The government is keen to expand on this because greater use of hydrogen will make the transport system more resilient to global energy prices and is more environmentally friendly. What’s more, developments in this technology had the potential to create thousands of skilled jobs.

In fact, this is the second round of competition funding awarded to the Tees Valley hydrogen transport hub. The first, focused on developing hydrogen-powered vehicles, saw more than £2.6m shared among several winners to deploy 21 such vehicles. One winner, Toyota, provided hydrogen vehicles to local police forces, while Hydrogen Vehicle Systems developed a hydrogen-powered van for large supermarkets to use in delivering groceries. 

The new, second round of the competition invited ideas to overcome challenges faced in rolling out hydrogen tech more widely, such as refuelling on a large scale and making the region’s supply chain greener. The hope is that airports and supermarket deliveries could soon run on hydrogen. Decarbonising heavier and more complex vehicles, such as airside operations, is essential in wider efforts to achieve net zero.  

In addition, it’s also been confirmed that £300,000 will be delivered directly to colleges in the area, with the intention to improve skills in the local workforce, cementing the status of Tees Valley as the home of hydrogen. 

Transport Secretary Mark Harper says: ‘Hydrogen technology has great potential to decarbonise transport and help grow the economy. Today’s winners illustrate the expertise the Tees Valley has as a pioneer in developing hydrogen tech. This investment will provide a further boost to the economy, creating skilled jobs and apprenticeships across the north east.’ 

Phil Forster, Managing Director of Teesside International Airport, adds: ‘We’re working hard to make Teesside an airport people can be proud of – and that doesn’t just mean flying to the destinations people love. It’s about acting responsibly, for the good of our local people and businesses and the future of our planet. 

‘This hydrogen refuelling station does just that, by proving this new technology is safe and reliable, and can be used across all sorts of applications. This makes it clear Teesside is helping to pioneer both the aviation industry and the clean energy sector. 

Ben Houchen, Mayor of Tees Valley, says: ‘We were one of the first areas to trial hydrogen fuels. This is continuing to pay off as we’ve been successful in securing this permanent refuelling station. 

‘Our airport, indeed our whole region, continues to be at the forefront of the UK’s net zero ambitions and this hydrogen station is another step forward to supporting the cleaner, healthier and safer industries of tomorrow. It backs up everything we’re doing in our low-carbon journey, including supporting the production and adoption of sustainable aviation fuel – one of the biggest issues facing the industry right now.  

‘The aim to have Teesside airport operationally net zero by 2030 is only the beginning. We’re still pioneering offshore, carbon capture and renewable technologies over at Teesworks, to truly cement Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool as the place to do business in innovative and clean technologies.’

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