The National Composites Centre (NCC) and UK hydrogen energy specialist Arcola Energy have published the findings of a survey about the heavy-duty vehicle supply chain.

The UK Hydrogen Supply Chain Survey was undertaken as part of an Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) project aiming to build a strong supply chain to support the decarbonisation of heavy-duty vehicles. The survey includes data from approximately 175 companies with existing operations and latent capabilities in the fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) powertrain market, according to the NCC.

The findings suggest that key areas of opportunity and current supply chain strengths include hydrogen storage, high-power batteries and power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD).

The total UK market for heavy-duty vehicles is around 50,000 units in the UK and 320,000 across the EU, with volumes expected to increase by 10% to 2030, the NCC said. Despite their relatively small numbers, transport such as lorries, trucks and buses are responsible for a quarter of road transport CO2 emissions and 6% of total emissions.

‘It is clear that the increased use of hydrogen and fuel cells for powertrains is going to be significant in the heavy-duty transport sector across the next decade,’ said Richard Kemp-Harper, strategy director, Arcola Energy. ‘At present, reliance on battery technology alone is not sufficient to meet the government’s zero emissions targets in the outlined timeframes – this is especially true for long-distance applications.

‘A key takeaway from NCC’s analysis is understanding how important clear and concise coordination in this space is – through strategic collaboration and government support to effectively define the parameters of a new zero-emission market for heavy-duty vehicles.’

Based on the survey results, the NCC and Arcola Energy have suggested a program based on the following principles:

  • At-scale deployment of a significant number of semi-standardised vehicles, integrated in the UK by organisations such as Arcola, using improved technology. These vehicles can be used as living test beds to validate UK-developed technology
  • Supply chain integration and learning for suppliers in the segment, who will have open access to vehicle integrators
  • Market development created by at-scale deployment, instilling real demand for FCEV and BEV common components.
  • Import substitution for R&D to develop and replace imported components

 Arcola Energy says that it will be next leading a hydrogen road freight study in Scotland in collaboration with freight operators. The objective of the study is to identify companies with a strong drive to decarbonise operations and find out vehicle and infrastructure requirements.

The report can be found here.

This story uses material from the NCC, with editorial changes made by Materials Today.