Tuesday 19 December

Move over van diesel, Sheffield is leading the drive to improve the city’s air quality with five new state-of-the-art hydrogen powered vehicles.

The Christmas delivery means that Sheffield has the largest fleet of the environmentally-friendly vehicles other than Transport For London, with the promise of more to come.

The five vans follow hot on the heels of Sheffield City Council’s new clean air strategy, launched last week. And the councillor responsible for air quality has led calls for more fleet vehicles to switch to the super-clean new vehicles, with grants available to offset the costs to businesses.

These Renault Kangoo vans are standard electric vehicles, with the batteries providing the power to move the vehicle. The difference is that there is a 5Kw Hydrogen Fuel Cell built into the load area providing additional energy to the batteries, therefore doubling the range and the working time of the vehicle.

In the hydrogen fuel cell, electricity is produced by a chemical reaction between the hydrogen from the tank and the oxygen present in the atmosphere: This reaction generates electricity that charges the batteries, with the only emissions being heat and water. This is vented from the van in the form of steam or droplets.

Just like normal electric vehicles, drivers can charge a van’s battery overnight. The hydrogen is filled at the ITM Power fuel station, a Sheffield company, where hydrogen is produced through electrolysis using wind generated renewable energy.

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure at Sheffield City Council said:

“Last week, Cabinet endorsed a bold new strategy to clean up our air and use alternative means of transport, including electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles. The arrival of these new vehicles show the council is leading by example to clean up our air. It is great that we are at the forefront of innovation and making use of cutting-edge technology like this.”


“This isn’t just about cleaner air, it makes good economic sense too, as the vehicles are cheaper to run and can pay for themselves over the long term. I want to help more businesses explore new green technology to make our city smarter, safer, cleaner and more energy efficient.

“I’m especially proud that we are the largest organisation in the country, other than Transport for London, to make use of these five vehicles. It shows just how committed we are to this issue. We will continue to make Sheffield a cleaner and greener city whilst tackling our pollution problems in a positive and proactive way.”

There are different ways of fuelling a vehicle to improve emissions and reduce pollution.  New models of normally-fuelled vehicles should have improved emissions.

Plug-in electric vehicles have zero tail-pipe emissions and many more new and improved models are being manufactured.  Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles could well complement these options in the future, offering quick refuelling and hundreds of miles on one tank.

Dr Ben Todd, Managing Director of Arcola Energy added: “We are delighted to be supplying Sheffield City Council with Symbio fuel cell hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. We applaud the leadership shown by Sheffield City Council 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.”

The vehicles have already been put into use across the city, working in areas such as parking services.

To read more on the council’s clean air strategy, click here.