Zero emission road freight – strand 2: hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

Key Features

UK registered businesses or organisations can apply for a share of up to £10 million for feasibility studies into a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle demonstration.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £10 million

Opens: 23rd Mar 2021

Closes: 5th May 2021

! This scheme is now closed


The Department for Transport (DfT) will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £10 million in innovation projects.

This investment is for advanced feasibility studies for zero emission road freight. This competition will conduct pre-deployment work for a possible future hydrogen fuel cell truck demonstration.

The feasibility study competition strands are:

  • electric road system demonstration – strand 1
  • hydrogen fuel cell vehicles demonstration – strand 2 (this strand)
  • supply chain technology – strand 3

There is a related SBRI competition on supporting uptake of battery electric trucks.


The aim of this competition is to fund ambitious feasibility studies for a future zero emission road freight demonstration of hydrogen fuel cell trucks.

Your study must determine and present the feasibility of a scaled demonstration.

You may wish to define and explore multiple scenarios, scales, and locations to suit different funding options. This could include a minimum viable product and an ideal demonstration scenario.

You must ensure that your project engages with stakeholders who are critical to any future deployments. These include Highways England and other relevant infrastructure and refuelling suppliers.

You must be available to attend 3 meetings over the course of your project. These meetings will be with at least: the DfT and Innovate UK, and possibly other stakeholders.

You may also be required to engage with contractors from Innovate UK and the Department for Transport who are exploring complementary factors associated with the future demonstration.

Your project must:

  • include planning, preliminary engineering designs and site (demonstration route and refuelling infrastructure) surveys
  • include full costing for the demonstration
  • factor in any contingency with links to projects risks identified
  • include steps to ensure the pre-authorisation or approvals have been considered in depth and progressed to a satisfactory (but non-committal) point

Vehicle-specific requirements

Your project must:

  • propose a fully zero tailpipe carbon emission demonstration
  • consider hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and infrastructure
  • use ‘green’ hydrogen produced solely from renewable sources for the trucks
  • use a quantity of trucks which match the scale and ambition of each scenario whilst maximising learning and providing value
  • target a solution for 44-tonne trucks
  • include full costing for the demonstration factoring in any contingency with links to projects risks identified

Your approach to vehicles must be scalable. Scale can be achieved through:

  • supply by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
  • the fitout of a new ‘glider’ with a hydrogen fuel cell power train

This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

Scenarios and scale

You must:

  • focus on demonstration of zero emission trucks in favour of production of hydrogen
  • ensure the demonstration you propose is supported by a strategic network of hydrogen refuelling stations
  • describe the planning and preliminary engineering stages for hydrogen refuelling stations including new facilities and those which complement existing infrastructure
  • describe the planning, preliminary engineering designs and site (demonstration route and refuelling infrastructure) surveys
  • consider real-world operation demonstration
  • conduct pre-deployment work for a demonstration which is expected to run for 5 years
  • describe the hydrogen distribution and refuelling infrastructure which is required to meet the proposed demonstration
  • consider demonstration locations, routes and the associated technical and operational factors

Location factors could include proximity to hydrogen production locations, compatibility with hydrogen distribution pathways, and relevant considerations around depot operation.

Broader context

You must:

  • include use cases, such as regional or national distribution and including those who will use the demonstration once operational
  • consider the total cost of ownership for the hydrogen fuel cell trucks
  • explain the factors for international freight using hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, including interoperability and standards
  • consider the safety and regulatory framework for the use and refuelling of hydrogen trucks
  • provide a comprehensive risk analysis with considered and realistic mitigations
  • consider training and familiarisation with hydrogen fuel cell trucks and refuelling infrastructure, for example for operators, emergency services and highway authorities
  • describe any decommissioning that is required at the conclusion of the demonstration (infrastructure which can viably be repurposed does not require decommissioning)
  • maximise UK value in terms of supply chain and deployment
  • consider accessing existing or planned hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in addition to bespoke installations and mobile refuelling
  • identify the number of stations needed for your scenario and recommend an appropriate utilisation of each station
  • justify your approach and decisions and clearly communicate any assumptions you make
  • consider opportunities for collaboration with other hydrogen hubs or initiatives for example the Teeside Hydrogen Hub, Holyhead Hydrogen Hub and the Clean Maritime Demonstration competition applicants

During the feasibility study you must engage with interested operators that could use your proposed demonstration to deliver a real-world road freight requirement.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • focus 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
  • consider niche applications of trucks such as for refuse collection
  • propose to procure sites or vehicles within the project’s lifetime
  • include the production of hydrogen as part of the project or future demonstration
  • are dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage- for example if they insisted that a baker use 50% UK flour in their product


Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £500,000 and £2 million
  • start by 01 July 2021
  • end by 31 March 2022

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • collaborate with other UK registered businesses, academic institutions, charities, not-for-profit, public sector organisations, research organisations or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

The lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding by entering their costs during the application.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

  • failed to exploit a previously funded project
  • an overdue independent accountant’s report
  • failed to comply with grant terms and conditions

Funding Costs

Innovate UK have allocated up to £10 million to fund innovation projects across the three strands of this competition.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For feasibility studies, 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

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.