The Road to Hydrogen

A hydrogen fuel cell HGV demonstration in the Tees Valley

Published on 24 March 2022

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The Road to Hydrogen was a UK Government funded project focussed on helping the UK solve challenges around zero emission road freight, linked to the Teeside Multi-Modal Transport Hydrogen Hub. Delivering the Road to Hydrogen project was a consortium comprised of  Electra Energy Limited, Durham University, Electra Commercial Vehicles Ltd and TRL. The project was also supported by Sainsbury’s and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

The challenge

The purpose of the project was a demonstration in the Tees Valley of a 19t GVW rigid truck powered by hydrogen fuel cells, operating under real-world logistics operations for a 3 month period. Advanced telematics provided high quality trial data which was a first for hydrogen vehicles in the UK, providing a deep dive into all functional areas of the vehicle.  Lessons learned in this project generated the insights required to improve the confidence of regional stakeholders, which will contribute to ensure the long-term prospects of the Teesside Hydrogen Hub (Hub) and will support the development of a local hydrogen supply chain. 

The project scope

The project delivered several innovations in relation to systems integration, hydrogen trial designs, and automation of the monitoring and evaluation process of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle trials. The project engaged with different stakeholder groups’ and investigated their awareness, perceptions, and attitudes towards hydrogen heavy goods vehicles. The project identified future business opportunities in the region, in particular the needs to develop a thriving hydrogen ecosystem.

While this project is regional in nature, the outcomes are expected to help other regions across the UK willing to transition towards a hydrogen economy. Elements such as vehicles’ reliability, costs, technical performance, operational constraints; policy landscape (enablers and barriers); and stakeholders’ views can be easily applied UK-wide. Some of the other aspects such as Hub’s plans and roadmaps, while niche, will also indicate some of the activities that other regions seeking to develop a hydrogen valley may want to pursue. 

TRL's contribution 

TRL led the trial design and data analysis activities, building on experience from previous Low Emission Freight and Low Emission Bus trials. The telematics data wAS analysed by TRL’s vehicle analytics platform (VAME), providing independent monitoring and evaluation of the trial results. The platform can produce comparative descriptive statistics, and more sophisticated analyses to explain small differences and attribute these to the different vehicle technologies and subsystems and drivers, to deliver true like-for-like comparisons. The platform can also assess split data by duty cycle and will allow the demonstration managers to visualise results in PowerBI on a weekly basis. VAME outputs will lay the foundation to report the benefits for customers (reliability, fuel economy, costs). 


The Road to Hydrogen project received funding from the Department for Transport through Innovate UK with matched funding from the consortium members.  Further details about the Government investment in the Tees Valley Hydrogen Hub can be found here.  Image above courtesy of DfT.


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