The trial, which will help the UK accelerate achieving its net zero ambitions, received funding for an earlier ‘Discovery’ phase, but has now been granted ‘Alpha Project’ funding from the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).
This funding mechanism launched in 2021 by energy industry regulator Ofgem and Innovate UK fast-tracks ambitious projects which aim to accelerate the transition over time away from costly imported gas supplies to more homegrown, decarbonized energy at the lowest cost to consumers and turn the UK into a center of energy innovation.
Under the transport theme, three rail projects sought funding, but Ricardo’s was the only one to be successful in its bid.
The project will pilot the use of green hydrogen, produced via renewable energy sources, to test prototype hydrogen-electric trains with the eventual aim of replacing diesel trains on rural routes in Scotland by 2035. Using renewable electricity that might otherwise be under-utilized, benefits the electricity system and its customers, while hydrogen-electric trains offer the acceleration, low pollution and quiet journey valued by passengers.
Colin McNaught, director of strategic growth and development for Ricardo’s Energy and Environment business unit, said, “Ricardo is delighted to be working with Scottish Power, Network Rail Scotland and the University of Leeds on the next step in our project to introduce hydrogen-electric passenger trains. Ricardo is actively supporting the decarbonization of global energy and transport sectors and we are therefore proud to be leading this innovation which will reduce emissions, accelerate the removal of diesel traction from Scotland’s Railway, and help the UK achieve its net zero goals sooner.”
The project started this August, and the joint Ricardo, Scottish Power, University of Leeds and Network Rail Scotland project team will have six months to explore their concepts in detail, after which, they can enter a further competition for large-scale funding to take their innovation toward market readiness.