Trade group the Scottish Wholesale Association has joined forces with Arcola Energy to identify the business case for fuel cell technology in the UK’s transition to zero-emission road freight.

The Scottish Hydrogen Fuel Cell Freight Trial (SHyFT), led by London-based Arcola Energy, has secured funding from the Department of Transport’s Zero Emission Road Freight programme for the design of a trial of hydrogen fuel cell trucks, supported by a green hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in Scotland.

With the aim to help develop innovative solutions to support the uptake of zero-emission trucks, the trial will use learnings from field testing battery-electric vehicles in a real-world environment and from undertaking feasibility studies. The activities undertaken will help to design and develop cost-effective, zero-emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and their refuelling infrastructure in the UK.

Arcola Energy, which has an engineering and manufacturing facility in Dundee, said that the project will assess the opportunity for zero-emission fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) with key freight operators who are looking to decarbonise operations in emission-sensitive sectors such wholesale food and drink logistics – including cold chain – and utilities and forestry.

The project partners include: the Scottish Wholesale Association; NewCold; the University of St Andrews; BOC; and Scottish Power. SHyFT will also make use of Scotland’s green hydrogen supply and expanding refuelling infrastructure by incorporating long-distance routes in its testing.

“The key objective of the project is to identify early adopters in heavy-duty freight sectors with a strong drive to decarbonise operations,” said Richard Kemp-Harper, strategy director at Arcola Energy. “By understanding their use cases, we can specify vehicle and infrastructure requirements for what they need now with a view to expanding capacity and capabilities in other sectors and vehicle types over time.”

Colin Smith, chief executive of the Scottish Wholesale Association, said: “We are now in Phase 2 of our own Decarbonisation of the Wholesale Industry Project designed to help members and the wider wholesale sector become greener and more sustainable.

“With ambitious plans to decarbonise the wholesale food supply chain and achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, if not before, we are currently finalising the results of Phase 1 ready for presenting our sector’s fleet make-up and carbon footprint – the outcomes of which have already generated the interest of technology developers such as Arcola Energy and Scottish Power.

“SWA’s involvement in the SHyFT project puts our sector and members at the forefront of the creation of greener fleets and creates a hugh opportunity for members to be the first to transition to fuel cell HGVs.”

The SHyFT will see Arcola deliver a demonstrator by modelling and integrating the early adopter vehicle requirements into a trial concept design and vehicle development programme. Based on the outcome of the study, a future trial could involve a test fleet of 20-30 trucks, using three existing refuellers and adding new installations during the trial. The project will also include a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis to help operators evaluate sustainability.

As the lead partner, Arcola is the vehicle OEM integrating the company’s scalable fuel cell powertrain platform into a “glider” chassis. Scottish Power and BOC will provide insight into green hydrogen production, supply and refuelling for the trial.

The Hydrogen Accelerator at the University of St Andrews will co-ordinate the feasibility study with the support of Arup.

Meanwhile, the SWA is hosting a webinar titled “SWA Fleet Decarbonisation Results & The Hydrogen Opportunities” on 26 August.

Mr Smith said: “The webinar will update members on the outcomes of Phase 1 of our decarbonisation project, and present analysis on the carbon emissions of our sector’s fleets.”

Speakers at the webinar, which runs from 2.30pm to 4pm, include: Arcola Energy, giving more detail about the SHyFT project; Barry Carruthers, hydrogen director, Scottish Power; and Amanda Lyne, managing director, ULEMCo Ltd.