The results of a new survey commissioned by the North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) have been released with 69% of 2000 people surveyed believing it is important for every UK household to move away from fossil fuelled cars.
The survey comes as the Committee on Climate Change recently urged Government to commit to a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050 – pointing to the role of hydrogen in cutting greenhouse gases.
The survey highlights a marked difference in the generations when it comes to climate change. Nearly 80% of 16-24 and 25-34 year olds advocate the move to low-carbon fuelled cars against 58% of those over 55. 60% of 16-24s have considered buying an electric car compared to 27% of over 55s.
Half of those surveyed are aware that hydrogen is an alternative low-carbon fuel for cars and is already being used to fuel buses and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) in the UK. The biggest factor in choosing to buy a hydrogen car over an electric car is vehicle price, with fuel station availability and longer running distances also regularly mentioned choices.
Professor Joseph Howe, Chair of the NWHA and Executive Director of the Thornton Energy Institute, at the University of Chester, said: “The issue of climate change has never been higher up the agenda and hydrogen could be a vital part of the decarbonisation picture. More than two-thirds of people recognise we need to find alternative low-carbon fuels for UK cars and it’s encouraging to see that over 50% are aware of the role hydrogen could play.
“The climate change message is clearly resonating with younger generations – something that’s become abundantly clear with the recent demonstrations in the capital. This generation are unlikely to ever own a fossil fuelled car and for them hydrogen could be an everyday reality.”
Over half (56%) of respondents to the survey correctly identified transport as the biggest contributor to climate change. Transport is now the largest source of UK greenhouse gas emissions (23% of the total) and saw emissions rise from 2013 to 2017.
A series of projects are already underway across the North West which are driving forward the use of hydrogen in the transport sector, including hydrogen trains and buses. A study is underway to look at the feasibility of using hydrogen produced at chemical company INOVYN’s Runcorn site to power buses on the streets of Liverpool. It was also recently announced that Liverpool City Region will become the first area in the North of England to trial hydrogen buses following a successful £6.4m Government funding bid, with a new refuelling station at BOC’s hydrogen plant in the St Helens.
Geraint Bruton, Business Manager – Clean Fuels, BOC said: “It’s encouraging to know that the public are so strongly behind the journey to clean and sustainable transport. Now what needs to happen is that hydrogen vehicles must catch up with electric vehicles in terms of public visibility, infrastructure and support. Like battery electric vehicles, hydrogen vehicles don’t produce any harmful tailpipe emissions and they benefit from increased range and faster refuelling times.
“The North West is leading the way, with BOC and other NWHA members working on projects such as the hydrogen powered bus trial in Liverpool City Region. This project will be a key driver to improve the technology’s viability. As the technology is adopted more widely across the country we expect to see the availability of fuelling stations increase and the price of vehicles come down. With the right support, we can look forward to hydrogen vehicles becoming an everyday sight on our streets.”
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Transport is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector of the UK economy. If we, as a city region, are to meet our commitment to becoming zero carbon by 2040, action is clearly needed to move to other fuel sources and hydrogen could play an important part in that process.
“We are 100% committed to supporting our city region’s growing low carbon energy sector, through wind, solar and our own Mersey Tidal Project, and hydrogen is likely to be a very important part of the energy mix as we aim to become the UK’s renewable energy coast.”
Delivering hydrogen to fuel transport is a key component of the HyNet North West project, led by gas distribution network Cadent, another member of NWHA. This near £1bn project envisages building a new hydrogen production plant by 2024 to supply the power industry, help heat 2 million homes and fuel transport. It would deliver £17bn in Gross Value Added for the North West, create 5,000 jobs and reduce carbon emissions by one million tonnes every year.