The evolution from a carbon based fuel economy to a Net-Zero ecosystem will require a blended solution of future power supply.
As this system evolves the market, UK government and consumers will all influence which of these energy solutions provides the best mix of viability, availability and (critically) affordability for each specific energy need.
Zoning in on the sustainable construction agenda and the need to tackle the reality that UK'S construction plant and equipment contributes to 2% of UK's greenhouse gas emissions from fuel use - there are already signs in the market of the role hydrogen can play. There are some potential real benefits from using hydrogen such as a lesser noise impact and lack of harmful emissions.
However, significant challenges exist to hydrogen-powered plant and equipment role out. Most notably supply of hydrogen to the equipment/site can involve high hydrogen transportation costs or capital cost to establish hydrogen fuel production/storage on site. This issue is one of the driving factors in the type of hydrogen vehicles that are coming/shortly coming to the market, being:
* vehicles that will likely be used for a large part, if not all of their working life, on a single site or long term project where hydrogen infrastructure investment offers value for money (e.g. as centralised refueling facilities can be built on site); and
* extremely heavy vehicles where the limitations of battery weight and range is exposed.
JCB, Komatsu, Hyundai and Caterpillar are all leading the charge on hydrogen plant solutions for such vehicles.
To capture the benefit of such vehicles UK major projects (think HS2/ Highways England) should consider construction plant and equipment energy requirements at the outset of each major infrastructure project to ensure that all opportunities are grabbed to support this evolving market and realise the potential that hydrogen can play in delivering sustainable construction promises.