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Response to All Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry into Hydrogen June 2020

November 17, 2021

Microcab Response to APPG Inquiry into Hydrogen
In the past few weeks several of our European neighbours have put hydrogen at the
forefront of their future energy plans and the funding to support it, including Germany,
Norway, Portugal and the EU itself. This is in addition to the efforts of Japan to become
a world leader using the Tokyo Olympics, China’s move in to hydrogen and hydrogen
vehicles (FCEVs) in mid-2019, likely to be endorsed and enlarged in the next 5 year plan
due in 2021, and California’s consolidation of their push into renewables and hydrogen.
These are a ringing endorsement of the hydrogen economy as the best solution to
reducing emissions quickly enough to hit the various targets set, and the advantages
seen by those economies to being ahead of the world in the associated technologies to
provide benefits and jobs to their economies to replace and overtake those provided by
fossil fuels.
As yet the UK has not got a co-ordinated Hydrogen strategy nor a clear position on
where such a strategy would sit in general energy policy, and both of these are essential
to moving forward and the APPG Hydrogen Inquiry is a welcome step in that direction. It
should also be pointed out that the UK’s Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan
was drawn up in early 2019 but has not been implemented since. A
comprehensive updated Energy Plan/Strategy would seem to be essential in terms of
planning the UK’s energy future in the decade to come, which promises to produce
radical change worldwide in energy policy and use.
Microcab Industries Ltd
This submission is made on behalf of Microcab Industries Ltd who are the world leaders
in small-scale manufacturing of leanweight FCEVs built on circular economy principles,
(which they are developing into a mass manufacturing capability). Microcab’s design
philosophy, as shown in its current fleet of 10 roadworthy (UK & EU) vehicles, is:

  1. To minimise or eliminate all emissions and so address climate change and air
  2. To maximise the efficiency of any of its products in terms of resources used;
  3. To maximise the lifecycle of the vehicle through longevity, and the replacement
    and reusability of all parts of the vehicle and so create a circular economy;
  4. To enhance the lives of users and non-users of light vehicle transportation;
  5. To do all of the above while maintaining the current and future safety and
    functional standards of light vehicles.
    Being a vehicle manufacturer, this submission will concentrate on the transport and
    automotive sectors, though it should be made apparent that the benefits of a hydrogen
    economy are that it can replace and improve all aspects of energy, and the flexibility,
    revenue streams and supply chains all interlink and enhance the whole economy and
    individual sectors.
    Earlier Microcab Responses to the UK target of 2035
    Microcab Industries Ltd has already provided responses to the UK Government on many
    of these questions in three documents in February 2020 when the UK Government first
    announced the new targets, as follows:
    1. The report/plan itself (link here) ; and
    2. An addendum on how to expand Hydrogen Refuelling Stations (HRSs) cheaply
      according to population and geography in the UK (link here); and
    3. A Powerpoint presentation (in pdf) on the current and future state of Hydrogen
      Technology use as of January 2020 (link here).

Additionally a recent updated version of these documents addressing the Hydrogen
Economy in Scotland, and containing more detailed information on different sectors of
industry is in a Microcab response to a Scottish Government Questionnaire here.
What the Microcab report is based on economically is several studies on hydrogen and
renewables the most notable of which is an analysis of 139 countries by Stanford
University about the economic advantages and possibilities of large scale transition to
renewables and hydrogen over the next 30 years referred to here, with individual
analyses of 139 countries here, and a summary of the projected means of energy
production, including the production of associated new jobs in the UK at 2050 here.
Hydrogen and FCEVs potential roles
In the short term the most impact and visibility of the hydrogen economy will be in
transportation as the technology is most advanced and tested in this sector, which this
depends on infrastructure. Microcab have shown that half the country in its main
population centres could be served by only 20-25 Hydrogen refuelling stations within 2-3
years (HRSs) costing an estimate of £20-30m in total (cf. £400m for charging points).
Further, the spread of FC bus fleets and HGV use will result in HRSs which could be
made available to the public, especially as they will be in city centres. Commercial and
public sector fleets are also a logical starting place for FCEV use and so HRSs, which
could be fuelled by renewables on site.
As this infrastructure develops it will provide jobs and benefits in the supply chains and
manufacture of the required technologies, many of whose leading companies are based
in the UK (such as ITM Power and Logan Energy). It will also provide the stimulus for
the manufacture and marketing of FCEVs, which in turn will develop the supply chains,
manufacture and development of the required technologies. At the moment the UK is
held back in this because the largest manufacturers (Toyota and Hyundai) will not sell
vehicles more than 25 Miles from an HRS resulting in very low sales of FCEVs despite
the demand. However targeted funding (which can be on a matched basis with industry
as is being done with charge points) and facilitation by government (which can coordinate the various branches of the H2/FCEV industries and companies and provide
regulatory and financial incentivisation) would mean that the UK could soon catch up,
and indeed overtake, its nearest rivals.
In the medium term the UK should be aiming at the same kinds of targets as its peer
countries (2030 – 1m FCEVs, nationwide coverage of HRSs). At the same time it would
be developing the know how and technologies to promote rollout of hydrogen and
renewables worldwide as these could provide vital energy solutions to the 75% of the
world that has little energy security or reliability, as well as to the most developed
nations. Microcab estimated at the beginning of the year that a tipping point would have
been reached by 2025 on choosing hydrogen as a major energy source in the major
economies, and by 2030 it would be apparent it was to be dominant (with renewables).
That means technologies such as FCEVs (and including heating, gas grids, domestic
supply, etc) will advance and become the dominant technologies in their individual
sectors, and each of these will support each other, and the development of green
production of hydrogen on a national level.. As the question of emissions becomes
controlled and targets become more clearly achievable, the focus will change to
resources and the circular economy towards the end of the 2030s and thereafter.
The UK is in a good position to develop these technologies and is already advanced in
renewables (40% of electricity generation in the UK, and 75% in Scotland). The UK also
has a large amount of technological and academic expertise and knowledge to be able
to exploit the forthcoming energy revolutions, and could develop these into a major
industrial strategy for the UK to create major world-beating industries for the decades to
come – if the investment is forthcoming now or in the immediate future.