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Tue May 21 2024

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Hydrogen lobby makes case for hydrogen – and EU alignment

4 Apr A UK trade association has advised the government to align its hydrogen fuel policy with that of the European Union.

While many have seen Brexit as an opportunity to do things differently from mainland Europe, more often than not it makes sense to be aligned.

That is one of the messages from the Hydrogen Energy Association (HEA) in its response to a government consultation on the decarbonisation of construction machinery.

The government has been soliciting views from industry as to whether batteries, hydrogen or something else altogether represents the future for powering non-road mobile machinery (NRMM). The consultation period closed on 26th March.

In its submission, the Hydrogen Energy Association (HEA), which represents 120 hydrogen businesses, unsurprisingly put the case that hydrogen was the future fuel for construction machinery. Its core message was that hydrogen must be considered part of the mix for fuelling the construction industry.

“Both hydrogen internal combustion engines (ICEs) and fuel cells offer benefits for NRMM decarbonisation,” it said. “Whilst ICEs offer reduced initial investment for manufacturers looking to switch from fossil fuels together with zero carbon and minimal NOx emissions, fuel cells offer low operational costs, reliability and zero emissions.”

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It said: “Due to these challenging operating conditions, certain technologies, such as battery electric and tethered electric, may not be suitable for all NRMM applications. Remote sites, areas with high grid constraints, and construction sites pose issues for the provision of electricity and reduce the viability of electric solutions. Hydrogen solutions are not subject to the same constraints.

“Overall, the government must recognise that the decarbonisation of NRMM cannot be satisfied by a single technology. Favouring particular technologies, such as electrification, should be avoided, as this risks undermining other solutions, as well as any new solutions developed in the future.

“To reiterate, a well-functioning decarbonised NRMM sector will include a range of technology options which reflect the specific requirements of NRMM such as durability, flexibility, robustness. Hydrogen solutions are particularly well suited to meet these requirements, and any future government policy decisions should reflect this.”

More interestingly, the HEA’s response also recommended that government align with the EU’s inclusion of hydrogen ICE as a zero-emissions technology to avoid disadvantaging UK industries and disincentivising investment.

It also suggested lessons could be taken from both the Netherlands and Norway. The Netherlands has introduced a subsidy for clean and zero emission construction equipment (SSEB), which includes separate funding strands for purchasing, retrofitting and experimenting. Norway’s government provides subsidies for the purchase of electric construction machinery, which can be as much as 40% of the additional cost of the machine compared to the diesel alternative.

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