The Metropolitan Police is switching to hydrogen power for some of its squad cars as part of efforts to cut emissions.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it would invested £8.8m in a government-industry project to boost the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles in the UK. The Met is aiming to have 550 zero or ultra-low emission vehicles in its fleet by 2020.
The DfT said the funds would used to buy almost 200 new hydrogen-powered cars for use by the Met, green taxi company Green Tomato Cars and car hire firm EuropCar.
The cash will also be used to construct four new hydrogen refilling stations in Southwark, Isleworth, Birmingham and Derby, and to upgrade five existing stations across the UK.
The project, which is run by a consortium managed by Element Energy and supported by ITM power, Shell, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, aims to advance the use of hydrogen powered vehicles and infrastructure in the UK.
The DfT said companies and stakeholders involved in the project had pledged to match the government’s funds with £13.1m of investment.
Roads minister Jesse Norman said it was “essential” for the government to work with the auto industry towards decarbonising British roads to meet climate targets.
“The innovative new technologies involved present great opportunities for our increasingly low carbon economy,” he said.
“Hydrogen has huge potential, especially for those making longer journeys and clocking up high mileage – that is what makes this project truly exciting. Not only is it demonstrating the technology in action but it is also developing the refuelling infrastructure needed for the future.”
Earlier this month the Met procured 11 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell cars, which retail for around £66,000.
Neil Jerome, Met Police Commander, said: “The Met is committed, alongside the mayor, to making the service as environmentally friendly as possible and a big part of that work is ensuring our fleet is green.
“Since late 2015, we have been actively looking at ways to hybridise and electrify our fleet, as well as exploring other new technologies, such as hydrogen.”
Hydrogen cars emit only water vapour and have been picked as a potential clean transport solution thanks to their ability to refuel in minutes and travel long distances on a single tank. However, the cars are still relatively expensive.
Refuelling infrastructure is also just emerging, with only 10 public refuelling stations operating across the country.
The DoT said over the next few years the companies involved in the project would “work to improve access to hydrogen refuelling stations up and down the country” and “increase the number of hydrogen cars on our roads from this summer”.
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