Zero emission road freight hydrogen fuel cell truck demonstration

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £140 million to demonstrate hydrogen fuel cell trucks.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £140 million

Opens: 15th Aug 2022

Closes: 12th Oct 2022

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the Department for Transport to invest up to £140 million in innovation projects. As part of the Zero Emission Road Freight (ZERFT) Demonstration programme, this competition will focus on the largest heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). The programme will support government’s commitment to end sales of all new, non-zero emission HGVs by 2040 and enable continued cross border freight.


The aim of this competition, as part of the Zero Emission Road Freight Demonstration programme, is to focus on the largest heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

Innovate UK expect to fund up to 5 demonstrations covering all technologies that are in scope, across the three strands of this competition. We are looking for projects that include multiple vehicle and infrastructure suppliers and that demonstrate a wide range of duty cycles with multiple freight operators.

The programme will fund costs associated with project delivery, vehicle access and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure during the period from when the project starts, up until 31 March 2025. All vehicles and infrastructure funded must be demonstrated for 5 years.

Innovate UK encourages and is particularly interested in proposals with micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) collaborative involvement.

This strand will fund multi-year on-road demonstrations of hydrogen fuel cell heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) as part of your standard freight operations.

Your project’s size must enable a demonstration of at least 25 trucks split between at least 2 operators and supported by at least 2 hydrogen refuelling locations. Your application must meet this scale and have a grant funding request of between £20 million and £90 million.

Your proposal must:

  • define the demonstration that you plan to conduct, including all associated costs and the range of operational use cases that you will demonstrate
  • focus on long-haul articulated heavy goods vehicles (40-44t gross vehicle weight) and developing a sustainable and scalable approach to zero emission road freight
  • present a well-rounded and industrially driven consortium capable of rapid deployment
  • evidence that you can acquire the vehicles and supply the infrastructure needed to carry out a successful demonstration in the required timeframe
  • define a demonstration which has a viable route to expanding nationally and internationally, as part of your long term strategy to decarbonise this sector

Demonstration-specific requirements

You must:

  • conduct an ambitious demonstration with focus on the most difficult to decarbonise HGV applications, including long-haul and long-duration high speed operations
  • focus on high utilisation of vehicles and infrastructure, and potential multi-shift operations, to maximise value for money, explore commercial viability and inform an optimal Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  • operate zero emission HGVs in various types of locations, whilst performing a range of duty cycles to reflect the variety in HGV operations
  • concentrate some vehicles around your key locations or infrastructure to explore factors associated with future high saturation deployments, fully exploring the boundaries and capabilities of the technology and infrastructure
  • ensure all vehicles funded in your project are in operation by 31st March 2025, vehicles can be deployed earlier or in stages if desired
  • ensure adequate training is provided for all those using the vehicles or infrastructure
  • ensure there are appropriate repair and maintenance provisions for your vehicles and infrastructure
  • share your project’s learning before, during and after your demonstration, both independently and by supporting activities organised by the funders or their agents
  • collaborate fully with organisations responsible for regulation, safety and incident response to conduct a safe demonstration
  • maximise UK value in terms of supply chain and deployment

International freight operations are acceptable, but we will not fund infrastructure or operations originating outside the UK.

Successful projects and operators demonstrating vehicles will be required to engage with contractors from Innovate UK and Department for Transport (DfT). They are independently evaluating the zero emission road freight demonstrations, see background and supporting information.

Vehicle-specific requirements

You must:

  • focus on use of state of the art vehicles that can be scaled, such as those produced by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
  • use articulated HGVs, specifically 6×2 or 4×2 axle tractors and semi-trailers with 40-44t gross vehicle weight (GVW)
  • only use hydrogen fuel cell HGVs
  • ensure any ancillary equipment is zero emission in use, including cabin heaters and trailer refrigeration units
  • ensure vehicles are capable of long haul operations
  • include usage of systems which provide vehicle traction power to ancillary equipment, for example power take-off (PTO)
  • ensure demonstrated vehicles meet all safety, regulatory and legal requirements

Infrastructure-specific requirements

You must:

  • ensure all proposed infrastructure funded through the programme is accessible to other operators outside the consortia by appointment
  • ensure infrastructure is located to enable a variety of operations including on-route refuelling
  • utilise a proportion of state of the art infrastructure, capable of refuelling multiple vehicles rapidly and back-to-back
  • ensure use of hydrogen that meets the UK’s draft low carbon hydrogen standard, such as that produced using renewable electricity
  • meet all safety, regulatory and legal requirements
  • align with current and emerging international standards
  • describe any decommissioning that is required at the conclusion of the demonstration (infrastructure which can viably be repurposed does not require decommissioning)

Projects can use existing or planned infrastructure where it is compatible with their demonstration and appropriate for long haul HGVs.

Innovate UK encourage projects to demonstrate links to other initiatives, such as the OFGEM Strategic Innovation Fund and the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund. Innovate UK may prioritise hydrogen projects that have a focus on the Tees valley area.

You can propose a demonstration using a proportion of vehicles that are not type approved or are produced by an organisation with an annual production intent of less than 500 vehicles. The following limits are set:

  • retrofitted diesel (or internal combustion engine) vehicles at 10% of the vehicles demonstrated
  • vehicles produced using a new ‘glider’ chassis at 20% of the vehicles demonstrated, or up to 30% if there are no retrofit vehicles demonstrated

You must provide a clear justification that this approach allows you to demonstrate best in class technology, maximise UK content, and that production can be scaled to enable rapid deployment of the core technology.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • propose a demonstration using ancillary equipment that is not zero emission, for example, diesel refrigeration
  • include costs for hydrogen production
  • demonstrate on use of hydrogen internal combustion engines or usage of hydrogen in conjunction with internal combustion engines
  • focus on hydrogen which is derived from fossil fuels
  • include coaches, road sweepers, refuse collection vehicles, off highway vehicles or HGVs that are not involved in freight
  • include costs for purchasing land or for generating electricity
  • are creating a legal entity such as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to manage project funds
  • are dependent on export performance
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage


Your project must:

  • start on 1 March 2023
  • claim the grant funding by 31 March 2025
  • complete your project and 5 year demonstration of all vehicles funded by the programme no later than 31 March 2030
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Your project must have a total grant funding request between £20 million and £90 million

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

If your total project’s grant funding request or duration falls outside of our eligibility criteria, you must provide justification by email to at least 10 working days before the competition closes.

Innovate UK will decide whether to approve your request. If you have not requested approval or your application has not been approved by us, you will be made ineligible. Your application will then not be sent for assessment.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with 2 or more businesses.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Non-UK businesses can apply to this competition in reference to activities they are considering undertaking in the UK. The business must be registered in the UK before any funding can be awarded.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

To be eligible as a collaboration the lead and at least one other organisation must claim grant funding.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

An eligible organisation can lead or collaborate on any number of applications.

You cannot use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Funding Costs

Up to £140 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

You can request funding for your eligible project research and development (R&D) costs and capital costs. These costs must be listed separately in your application.

If successful you will not be able to:

  • reassign capital costs to R&D costs
  • reassign R&D costs to capital costs
  • increase the amount or proportion of grant funding you are requesting for capital costs or R&D costs

The programme will fund costs associated with your project during the period from when the project starts up until 31 March 2025, with all vehicles funded to be demonstrated for 5 years.

The total funding available for the competition can change. The funders have the right to:

  • adjust the funding allocations between the three competition strands
  • apply a ‘portfolio’ approach

Your proposal must demonstrate value for money and your grant funding request must be the minimum needed to make your project viable.

Innovate UK encourage you to align your funding spend against this profile where possible:

  • from your project start date to 31 March 2023: 30%
  • 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024: 30%
  • 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025: 40%

Research and development costs

If the majority of your organisation’s R&D work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request to support these costs must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

Capital costs

Your application can include the purchase of capital equipment as an eligible project cost for large-scale demonstration projects. Investments must be relevant to the project and the maximum intervention rate on these purchases is up to 80% grant for the duration of the project up until 31 March 2025 for all organisations.

As part of your application you must calculate the net cost of any capital usage of capital equipment. This must exclude any usage after the project end or any usage that is not part of your project.

You must estimate the residual value and we may independently value capital equipment at the end of the project. Where there is a discrepancy which results in you exceeding the rate of subsidy you have been awarded, this will need to be redressed.

Your eligible project capital costs must be the purchase, construction, or upgrade of research resources (including trucks and infrastructure) that perform economic activities.

Your total eligible project capital costs must be the investment costs in intangible and tangible assets. These can relate to trucks or refuelling stations.

Funding cannot be used to reduce the total cost of freight operations below the cost of diesel vehicle operations. You will have to submit details of your capital costs as part of your application.

You could get funding for your eligible project capital costs for the duration of the project up until 31 March 2025 of up to 80% of your investment into:

  • hydrogen fuel cell trucks used for your demonstration
  • hydrogen refuelling stations used for your demonstration

You will have to provide a cost breakdown for this in your application. For further information on Capital Costs, please see guidance.

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 5% of the total grant funding requested. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Of that 5% you could get funding for your eligible R&D project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Within that 5% you could also get funding for your eligible capital project costs of up to 80% subject to the capital cost funding rules.

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.