The UK could have 1.6 million hydrogen vehicles on the road by 2030, according to a new joint report by government and industry.
The UKH2 Mobility consortium, which includes Hyundai, Toyota and Nissan as well as utility firm SSE and government departments with responsibility for business, energy and transport, is planning the rollout of the technology in the UK.
It believes that a network of 1,150 fuelling station could support this new fleet at a cost of £400m.
Three million tonnes of CO2 could be avoided by 2030 as a result of the hydrogen vehicle roll out.
“The transition to ultra-low emission vehicles has already begun. It has the potential to create really significant new economic opportunities for the UK, to diversify national energy supply and to decarbonise road transport,” said Business Minister Michael Fallon.
“We already have a strong automotive sector and must ensure it stays that way. Opportunities for the UK to take a leading role in low carbon technologies will be looked at as part of our auto industrial strategy, published later this year,” said Fallon.
The report claims hydrogen fuel cells can be cost-competitive with diesel and with 60% less emissions once the production and delivery of the fuel is factored in. This figure could be 75% by 2030 with the aim of reaching zero emissions by 2050.
At this stage, hydrogen could have a 30-50% market share of vehicles.
“The motor industry recognises it is vital for it to develop and deliver new solutions for reducing the environmental impact of the vehicles it produces,” said Akihito Tanke, Vice President, Research and Development, Toyota Motor Europe.
“Hydrogen fuel cell technology represents a major advance in securing sustainable mobility,” said Tanke adding that all those involved in the development of hydrogen-based transport would have to work together closely to get it off the ground.
A number of manufacturing processes will be used to produce the hydrogen with renewable energy providing more than half the estimated hydrogen by 2030 by splitting water molecules, according to the report.