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Another boost for Tees Valley’s green sector

Tees Valley has taken another step towards boosting its status as the UK’s first Hydrogen Transport Hub and a leader of the green industrial revolution.

Teesside Airport has been announced as one the UK’s first pilot areas to test hydrogen vehicles with a £2.5m project which will see the airport and other Tees Valley organisations have commercial and support vehicles fitted with 100% hydrogen zero emission engines.

Trials will aim to show how hydrogen fuelled vehicles can be quick and easy to drive and refuel, cleaning up the air and helping to meet zero carbon emission ambitions.

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

The Hydrogen Transport 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. [It] 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 yesterday 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.

The announcements come within weeks of news of major green industrial developments in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland in the shape of a £1bn investment by Nissan and its partner Envision in the manufacture of electric vehicles and batteries at Sunderland, creating around 6,200 jobs directly and in the UK supply chain, and by Britishvolt in a battery factory at Blyth creating up to 8,000 jobs.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘With less than 100 days to go until COP26 [the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow], 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.’