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Specialist energy consultancy Element Energy has won government funding to trial a hydrogen-fuelled HGV on behalf of Sainsbury’s in the Tees Valley area.

The HGV will operate from a local distribution centre and will be carrying out goods deliveries in the area.

The trial is one of a number of schemes which have won a total of £2.5m in government funding this week, as part of a wider aim to develop hydrogen as an alternative fuel in the UK.

Other schemes include a project run by HV Systems to operate a fleet of hydrogen-powered vans for an unnamed major supermarket between 19 superstores and their main distribution centre in the Tees valley area, a project by Stagecoach and Ricardo to retrofit a double-decker diesel bus with a hybrid fuel cell system, and a scheme by Toyota to deliver a number of hydrogen vehicles, including a forklift truck for warehouse operations, a passenger bus and 10 fuel cell passenger cars. All are set in the north east of England.

News of the award comes on the same day the government announced its Hydrogen Strategy. Tees Valley has also been chosen to be the site of the UK’s first Hydrogen Transport Hub, which is expected to be fully operational by 2025.

Announcing the £2.5m award, 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.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Through trialling the use of hydrogen in transport across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, we are spearheading the path to a greener future by developing the knowledge and expertise needed to roll hydrogen out as a fuel source across the country.

“In Teesside, we already produce 50% of the UK’s hydrogen, so there is no better place for this research to take place.

“This new investment shows how Teesside is leading the way in the drive for the UK to be net zero by 2050, creating good-quality, well-paid, clean energy jobs in the process.”

David Tozer, head of land and maritime transport at Innovate UK, said: “Innovate UK is pleased to support these innovative projects across the Tees Valley in partnership with the Department of Transport.

“Deploying hydrogen vehicles and vessels at scale and showcasing the UK’s long-term aspirations in this space, is essential in delivering UK commitments to decarbonisation.”