UK roads and building sites will soon see world’s first hydrogen digger

UK roads and building sites will soon see world’s first hydrogen digger

February 23, 2023 2 By John Max

The UK will soon have its very first digger powered by hydrogen fuel.

The UK government has approved the use of the world’s first hydrogen digger powered by a hydrogen combustion engine on UK roads and building sites.

The H2-powered digger will help to decarbonize the nation’s construction industry.

The Transport Secretary has provided British construction equipment manufacturer JCB special dispensation, under a vehicle special order, that allows the company to test and use its hydrogen-powered backhoe loader on roads, including the public highway, and building sites in the United Kingdom.

Hydrogen digger - Construction Site

This hydrogen digger is a first of its kind in the world and delivers a pioneering solution to assist in the reduction of emissions on construction sites. This is an important step in the right direction toward decarbonization in the construction industry, which is responsible for 25% of the UK total greenhouse gas emissions.

“JCB’s hydrogen-powered backhoe loader is a world first in our industry, a digger with a purpose-engineered internal combustion engine that uses hydrogen gas as the energy source,” said JCB Chairman Lord Bamford. “It’s a real breakthrough – a zero CO2 fuel providing the power to drive the pistons in an internal combustion engine, a technology that’s been around for over 100 years, a technology that we are all familiar with.”

The innovative hydrogen digger has created over a hundred new jobs.

In addition to lowering emissions, this new H2-powered machine has lead to other benefits, including creating 150 new jobs in the Midlands, and there is a promise of hundreds more as JCB’s hydrogen project continues to advance further.

What’s more, these developments aid in equipping the UK with the skills and expertise required to lower emission and provide learning to prospective apprentices, ensuring that the nation’s skillset is secured over the long term.

JCB’s prototype hydrogen digger is a vital first step in the construction industry’s efforts to decarbonize what is considered to be one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize. Hydrogen combustion machines, such as the H2-powered backhoe loader, can play a key role in lowering CO2 emissions in settings where other types of clean power may not be as efficient or practical.

“From cars to construction sites, industry has a vital role in decarbonising our economy and creating green jobs and prosperity”, said Technology and Decarbonisation Minister Jesse Norman. “JCB’s investment in greener equipment is a great example of how industry can make this happen, using alternative fuels to generate sustainable economic growth.”

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