Fuel distributer Exolum is to build a publicly accessible green hydrogen refuelling station near Middlesborough serving around 25 hydrogen-powered HGVs, supplied and maintained by Novuna Vehicle Solutions, as part of the Tees Valley Hydrogen Vehicle Ecosystem (HYVE) consortium. 

The publicly accessible refuelling station, near to Middlesbrough town centre and at the intersection of the A19 and A66, will be capable of dispensing up to 1.5 tonnes of hydrogen per day and will be used by the new zero emission HGVs to make deliveries in the Teesside area.

To further support the sector, Tees Valley Combined Authority will use £300,000 of government funding to run a competition for Tees Valley colleges and training institutions to purchase hydrogen training equipment to upskill the local workforce.

The three initiatives are being funded by a £7m government grant announced today (17 January) for hydrogen projects that aim to grow the economy and support skilled jobs in the North East.

As the selected HGV leasing partner within the HYVE consortium, Novuna Vehicle Solutions will work alongside German manufacturer Quantron AG, to build, fund and manage the in-life maintenance of more than 20 fuel cell electric HGVs ranging from 4.2 to 27 tonnes deployed in the project.

The vehicles will be run by some of the region’s largest vehicle operators within the logistics, infrastructure, utilities and home delivery sectors and will replace diesel vehicles, reducing local air pollution and carbon emissions.

Data monitoring and performance evaluation will be provided by the School of Computer Engineering and Digital Technologies at Teesside University, who have extensive experience in the fuel cell field.

Jon Lawes, Novuna Vehicle Solutions MD, said: “This project is crucial to removing barriers and addressing the needs of operators at every stage of the ecosystem, in turn realising the commercial viability of hydrogen, at scale, and transforming the heavy transport sector which has been left behind in the road to net zero fleets.

“With our experience and unique capability to build, fund and manage the in-life maintenance across all vehicle types, including HGVs, we’re looking forward to collaborating with other selected participants to create a cleaner transport sector and ultimately unlock the vast potential of fuel cell hydrogen vehicles.

“Being firmly at the forefont in addressing the challenges of decarbonising heavy-duty vehicles complements our broader zero emissions strategy which is already comprehensively supporting fleets’ transition to electric vehicles.”

Novuna Vehicle Solutions, which manages over 140,000 vehicles across the UK and Europe ranging from cars and vans to HGVs and specialised assets, is also currently in discussion to support separate trials of hydrogen vehicles for Network Rail.

Andreas Haller, Quantron AG chief executive and founder, added: “We are proud to be a part of this initiative. Bringing our innovative Quantron Inside technology to the UK marks a significant step forward in our global strategy and we are delighted to do this in collaboration with our partner Novuna.

“We are building hydrogen vehicles that reflect our commitment to sustainability to set a new environmentally friendly standard for long-haul transportation.”

Announcing the project,Anthony Browne, technology and decarbonisation minister, said: ”It’s fantastic to see the Tees Valley continue to be a trailblazer in this vital technology to decarbonise heavier vehicles leading the way for the wider rollout of green hydrogen.

These three winning projects will not only support jobs and economic growth in the Tees Valley but will also help decarbonise our transport network.”

Today’s funding follows the announcement of the first two winning projects, led by ULEMCo and Element 2, which will develop hydrogen-powered airport ground-based support vehicles and create new hydrogen refuelling stations.

This latest announcement completes the second round of government competition funding for the Tees Valley hydrogen transport huband and follows the first round, which awarded over £2.6m to deploy 21 hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The second competition invited ideas on how to overcome some of the challenges of scaling up hydrogen technology, making the regions supply chain greener with hydrogen-fuelled vans and HGVs.

Government investment in the Tees Valley hub aims to position the region at the forefront of the hydrogen transport sector, bringing skills, jobs, exports and growth. It will also provide evidence and experience to support future policy, strategy and investment decisions over the coming years.

Exolum Clean Energies Lead, Andres Suarez, said: ”At Exolum, we want to be a relevant player in green hydrogen technology, which is positioning itself as an efficient energy vector to help decarbonise sectors that are difficult to electrify, such as heavy-duty mobility.

”This project in the UK comes in addition to others we have under development and others already fully implemented, such as the first hydrogen plant for mobility in Madrid, Spain. Thanks to joint collaboration with other pioneering companies, we will be able to offer this new technology to the market to drive the energy transition.”