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Amey uses some of the first hydrogen-powered vehicles in the country

Amey is turning to some of the first hydrogen-powered vehicles in the country to help improve its environmental performance on Sheffield roads.

As part of its 25-year Streets Ahead highways maintenance contract which will see the upgrade of the city roads, pavements, street lighting and bridges on behalf of the council, Amey already has two electric vans at its depot at Olive Grove. It is gearing up to run another 15 electric vehicles to replace the current diesel vehicles as part of its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

And now another major eco-friendly step is being taken with the trial of two vans that use a hydrogen fuel cell to extend the range of power the battery gives to approximately 200 miles.

The Sheffield scheme – the first in Amey’s UK network – is being launched after a Government agency awarded a grant.

Results will be monitored by both Amey and the Department for Transport to assess the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles in general.

“We will run a trial with two hydrogen vehicles over the next two years. At the moment, there are only 20 to 30 hydrogen vehicles in the country and technology is at a very early stage. But the obvious benefit is that there are zero carbon emissions which will help improve the air quality in and around Sheffield”said Streets Ahead Environment Manager, Tom Cullingford.

The go-ahead coincides with interest from the Department of Transport in hydrogen-powered trains being introduced on part of the national rail network to replace diesel engines.

The vehicles are Renault Kangoo ZE electric vans, fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell by SymbioFcell a French company, and supplied to Amey via Symbio’s UK partner, Arcola Energy.

Dr Ben Todd, Managing Director of Arcola Energy said “We are delighted to be supplying Streets Ahead with Symbio Fcell hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. We applaud the leadership shown in pioneering these vehicles which combine the low fuel cost and quiet, zero emission operation of a battery electric vehicle, with the all-weather range and fast fill of a hydrogen vehicle.”

Hydrogen for the vehicles will be provided by ITM Power from their hydrogen station based at Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield – one of only a handful of hydrogen refueling stations outside of London. The hydrogen uses is produced on site using renewable energy from a wind turbine.

In Sheffield, Amey is harnessing the technique of using hydrogen fuel cells to create electricity to power the van battery.

The experiment to assess the performance of two vehicles, which are more expensive than diesel and electric-only vehicles, has become feasible thanks to financial support from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, which is part of the Department of Transport.

Issues such as the reduction in carbon emissions, the cost of running the vehicles and the mileage will be examined.

It is hoped that hydrogen-powered vehicles could play a part in helping Sheffield to reduce levels of nitrous oxides and particulates as part of the city’s commitment to an Air Quality Management Zone.

Cabinet member for Environment and Street Scene at Sheffield City Council, Councillor Bryan Lodge said: “Amey is taking huge steps to ensure it is operating in the greenest and most efficient way as staff travel and work around the city as part of the Streets Ahead programme. It’s great to see that it is mirroring the Council’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the city and clean up the air that we all breathe.”

As part of its corporate responsibility policy on the environment and sustainability, Amey is committed to continually improving its impact on the environment, including the use of low emission vehicles and driver training to improve technique and minimise air pollution.

Delivery of the two Streets Ahead hydrogen vehicles comes just weeks after Sheffield City Council added five to their fleet following the launch of its new clean air strategy.

Cabinet member for Transport and Sustainability at Sheffield City Council, Councillor Jack Scott said:

“It’s so good this investment is happening. Air pollution is a public health emergency across the UK, and Sheffield is no exception. Our new, bold and ambitious plan makes clear that the Council will lead by example. These vehicles prove we are serious about taking the decisive action we need to clean up our air and I am looking forward to further action in the near future.”