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Posted: 17th August 2021

Teesside Airport has today (17 August) been announced as one the UK’s first pilot area to test hydrogen vehicles as part of the Tees Valley’s status as the country’s Hydrogen Transport Hub. 

The £2.5m project will see the airport, among other key Tees Valley organisations, have commercial and support vehicles fitted with 100% hydrogen zero emission engines.  

A ground support tug, which tows aircraft, will be converted to run on hydrogen by ULEMCo while global car manufacturer Toyota will supply two Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with a range of around 400 miles as well as a forklift truck for use. Trials will aim to show how hydrogen fuelled vehicles can be quick and easy to drive and refuel, cleaning up the air in our local areas, as we aim to meet our net zero ambitions. 

One of the most wide-ranging projects will see Toyota deploying a number of hydrogen vehicles across the region’s rapid response services, such as emergency response units for the Cleveland Police and NHS patient support.  

It was announced, in September last year, that Tees Valley would be home to the UK’s first Hydrogen Transport Hub. The hub, in partnership with Teesside University, will form an innovation campus focused on clean energy research and development. It will lead research, development, and testing of new hydrogen transport technologies, including for cars, buses, trains, lorries, boats and planes. 

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “This is yet another huge boost for Teesside, putting our region at the forefront of the hydrogen revolution and developing fuels of the future. Following our multi-million-pound redevelopment of our passenger terminal it’s only right we ensure our ground operations vehicles are fit-for-purpose and helping lead the region’s clean energy ambitions. I want Teesside Airport to be first hydrogen ready airport in the UK and this is the first important step.  

“This comes on top of our other clean energy initiatives with low-carbon, hydrogen and renewable schemes taking place across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. We’ve got a long list of projects such as Teesworks with GE Renewable Energy’s massive wind turbine manufacturing facility and Net Zero Teesside’s carbon capture, utilisation and storage project. 

“It only serves to highlight how we’re grabbing opportunities in the clean energy sector with both hands creating good-quality, well-paid jobs in the process.” 

It was also announced today that HV Systems plan to demonstrate the use of hydrogen in delivery vans in the Tees Valley area. The vans will be operated in collaboration with a leading supermarket chain, running between 19 superstores and their main distribution centre. The project aims to show how delivery vans fitted with fuel cells can have increased range, faster refuelling times than battery electric versions and speed parity with conventional diesel vehicles. Additionally, in collaboration with Sainsbury’s, Element Energy will also be trialling a hydrogen-powered HGV. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “With less than 100 days to go until COP26, 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.” 

ULEMCo Managing Director Amanda Lyne added: “We are delighted to be able to build on the success of our 100% hydrogen static genset engine with this mobile vehicle.  

“Airport ground support vehicles are yet another niche application that can benefit from decarbonisation using hydrogen without the delay of building a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure.” 

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