The world’s first digger, powered by a hydrogen combustion engine, will soon be on UK roads and building sites, helping to decarbonize the UK’s construction industry.
The British government has recently given a special type of approval that allows JCB, the British construction equipment manufacturer, to test and use its world-first hydrogen-powered backhoe loader on UK roads. The announcement came directly from the UK’s Department for Transport says this backhoe loader is the first of its kind and offers a pioneering solution to help reduce emissions on construction sites.
The construction sector is responsible for 25% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UK government. And the hydrogen-powered digger will not only help reduce emissions but will also help grow the economy by creating hundreds of new jobs.
This is an important first step in the construction industry’s efforts to decarbonize in what is a ‘hard to decarbonize’ sector. Hydrogen combustion machines can play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions in settings where other types of clean power may not be the most practical or efficient.
“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,” JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said. “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.”
Hydrogen is just one of the many ways that the UK government is looking to accelerate decarbonization, the Department of Transport said. The recent announcement of the second phase of the Tees Valley Hydrogen Hub builds on previous commitments to best explore how hydrogen can be utilized as an alternative fuel.
Additionally, JCB’s expanding apprenticeship program shows how apprentices can play a part in shaping a net zero future. The government committed to delivering £300,000 (around $362,000) towards the teaching of hydrogen skills as part of the Tees Valley Hydrogen Transport hub.
The work seen as part of the hub in Tees Valley will work to address challenges such as providing refueling infrastructure at scale and integrating that within a wider decarbonized energy network.