Scottish Government Hydrogen Policy Statement

We set out our vision for Scotland to become a leading hydrogen nation in the production of reliable, competitive, sustainable hydrogen, securing Scotland’s future as a centre of international excellence as we establish the innovation, skills and and supply chain to underpin our energy transition.

Chapter 8. Hydrogen in Transport

Policy Priorities: Hydrogen in Transport

Scotland has been an early adopter of hydrogen in transport, with Aberdeen being one of the first European cities to roll out hydrogen fuel cell buses. Over the past five years, more than £40 million has been successfully invested or earmarked for ground-breaking hydrogen transport projects.

We are now moving into a new phase. Having successfully demonstrated the technical viability of hydrogen in a range of transport applications, our focus is turning to scaling-up the potential for hydrogen by linking together opportunities across sectors and transport modes and building Scotland's potential for innovation and supply chain growth.

The recent creation of the Hydrogen Accelerator programme at the University of St Andrews, coupled with the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc in Dundee have created a unique new focus and prospectus for innovation in hydrogen technologies and the supporting skills and knowledge base. Hydrogen also features strongly in the City of Glasgow's fleet strategy.

With the support of Transport Scotland and our enterprise agencies, underpinned by close collaboration between government and industry, we are now seeing the emergence of the next generation of hydrogen projects and investment, including in new areas such as rail, maritime and aviation.

Cities and regions across Scotland, including Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee, are also now driving forward coordinated strategies to harness the opportunities for linking up transport demand, green energy generation and innovation in product developments in the application of fuel cells to a growing range of vehicles types and transport modes.

Scotland is well positioned to be a global destination for development and deployment of hydrogen technologies in the transport system.

A sustainable transport system

Scotland's National Transport Strategy (NTS2) sets out four priorities for our transport system: reducing inequalities; taking climate action; supporting inclusive economic growth; and improving our health and wellbeing.

In line with the sustainable travel hierarchy, our priority is managing or reducing demand for travel, and supporting active travel and public transport. Where this is not possible, we must support a swift transition to new, low and zero emission modes of transport. This will requires mix of technology and behavioural shifts, all underpinned by fast-paced innovation and commitment.

In defining a Mission Zero for Transport (Programme for Government 2019-20[11]), the Scottish Government has already established a visionary approach to these decarbonisation challenges and opportunities, setting us on a path to decarbonise our rail system by 2035; scheduled flights within Scotland by 2040; and removing the need for new petrol of diesel cars and vans by 2030. Our update to the Climate Change Plan has also affirmed our commitment to working across sectors so that the majority of new buses purchased from 2024 will be zero emission, and the need for new petrol and diesel heavy vehicles will be removed by 2035.

These stretching targets provide a clear policy landscape and a roadmap for one of the greatest transitions in mobility that we have seen for over a century.

Supporting this shift is about much more than just reducing carbon emissions. It is also an opportunity to reimagine mobility's place in society and to drive forward investment in and growth of new industries, skills and the innovation needed to underpin this transformation.

Hydrogen in the Transport Sector

Investment in electric vehicles globally is planned to reach $300 billion over the next 5 - 10 years. The UK's share of the global market for low emission vehicles is estimated at £240 billion a year by 2050. Global market for other low emission vehicle products and services, including exhaust retrofitting, batteries, motor components, battery recycling, hydrogen fuel cells and integration of vehicle systems into energy systems could be worth a further £110 billion to the UK.

Although often viewed as competing technologies, battery electric and hydrogen systems are in fact complementary and could both become cornerstone technologies for the electrification of transport. The Scottish Government is supporting targeted investment in both technologies.

The Scottish Hydrogen Assessment indicates that the transport sector, alongside industry, will most likely form the initial areas of high demand for hydrogen in Scotland and could underpin a market of sufficient size to enable low-cost hydrogen production, with fuel cell markets developing or emerging in areas such as HGV's, buses, trains and shipping.

Hydrogen is already used internationally as a zero emission fuel for hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) including passenger cars, buses, trucks, trains, and industrial machinery such as forklifts.

According to an International Energy Agency report in 2019[12], the Global FCEV market is expected to rise from $830 million in 2018 to $11.6 billion by 2025. A number of larger nations have announced targets to build a total of 1,000 hydrogen refuelling stations during 2025 – 2030. Front runner countries have also outlined national FCEV production targets with Korea committing to 1.8 million by 2030, China to 1 million and Japan to 0.8 million.

There are also wider shifts in the automotive market that may be of importance to the emergence of hydrogen fuel cell technologies. Leasing continues to disrupt traditional models of vehicle ownership, across multiple market segments. Most of the major manufacturers have plans to move away from traditional sales and ownership models within the next decade. We have also seen energy companies enter the automotive market to offer leasing deals on cars, batteries and integrated energy products covering, cars, chargers, tariffs and energy storage and production.

Scotland's focus: Innovation, product development and infrastructure

Scotland has specific research and innovation strengths to support our journey to a zero emission transport system, including through the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc, with its emphasis on sustainable and zero emission mobility technologies; the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland and accompanying Light Weight Manufacturing centre; the Driving the Electric Revolution centre of expertise; and in energy system integration, (e.g. Power Network Demonstration centre).

In recent years, around £40 million has, or is, being invested in hydrogen mobility projects across Scotland, including refuelling infrastructure for Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow. This has seen the deployment of buses and other heavy vehicles which are assisting the development of drivetrain technologies, and demonstrating new ways to integrate hydrogen across transport and wider energy system applications.

Scotland now has an opportunity to support and strengthen its capabilities, encouraging the emergence of new hydrogen specialisms and commercial investments. Building on the strength of Scotland's early adopter and demonstration, the integration of hydrogen into the transport system at greater scale could also support the emergence of a local and regional markets for investment in green hydrogen.

Scotland's Automotive Industry Advisory Group (IAG) was established prior to COVID19, and brings together senor figures from across the industry, business and academia to advise on the steps to position Scotland as:

  • a global player in supply chains for zero emission mobility for heavy duty and niche vehicles;
  • an international centre of expertise in energy/transport system integration;
  • a global destination for innovation in sustainable, zero emission mobility.

The Advisory Group's findings will be published at the conclusion of its work, and will provide important insights and actions to develop Scotland's capabilities and supply chains.

A sub group of the IAG - the Bus Decarbonisation Taskforce - has also been established to focus on the specific opportunities and challenges of scaling-up the deployment of battery and hydrogen fuel cell electric buses so that the majority of new buses purchased from 2024 are zero emission, bringing this date forward if possible.

The Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and our enterprise agency partners are already supporting a range of initiatives and projects to build out Scotland's capabilities, with zero emission mobility now a key enterprise theme, and a priority inward investment theme[13].

Example initiatives and action include:

  • launching the Hydrogen Accelerator programme based at the University of St. Andrews. This links academic, public and commercial interests in the development and deployment of hydrogen technologies and provides expert advice and support to the design, development and implementation of transport initiatives across Scotland.
  • supporting investment in new Scottish capabilities in areas such as zero emission drivetrain testing, and in energy system integration for future transport needs.
  • supporting the Energy Technology Partnership to establish a new innovation network bringing together academia, sector specialists and companies to promote innovation in technologies to decarbonise the transport system.
  • supporting the development and deployment of new zero emission vehicles and Scottish supply chain opportunities, building on the success of recent initiatives on refuse and emergency response vehicles.
  • providing support for major demonstration projects to develop a commercial basis for investing in hydrogen refuelling and fuel cell vehicles, with current emphasis on Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow.
  • funding the development of a hydrogen fuel cell rail vehicle to assess the potential for wider use on Scotland's railways.
  • establishing a zero emission drivetrain testing facility to attract inward investment and support the development of the transport supply chain's capacity in hydrogen and other zero emission technologies.
  • supporting Scottish companies and integration specialists introducing new zero emission vehicles into the market, with our Zero Emissions Heavy Duty Vehicle Programme co-ordinating activities between Scottish Enterprise and Transport Scotland to support the development of the zero emissions heavy duty vehicles sector in Scotland.

Local authorities and the wider public sector are also playing an important role in stimulating markets for green products and zero emission vehicles. The Scottish Government has committed to work with public bodies to phase out the need for any new petrol and diesel light commercial vehicles by 2025[14] and to create the conditions to phase out the need for all new petrol and diesel vehicles in Scotland's public sector fleet by 2030.

Transport Scotland's Switched on Fleets programme has supported over 2,500 zero emission vehicles in Scotland's fleets to date. With partners such as Scottish Procurement and Scottish Futures Trust, Transport Scotland is establishing innovative new ways to help the public sector invest in zero emission vehicles at scale, whilst maximising opportunities to leverage commercial investment through aggregated demand for new products, vehicles and infrastructure.

Local authorities such as Glasgow City Council have invested in demonstrator and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as part of their commitment to hydrogen in their own fleet decarbonisation plans.

Glasgow City Council's Fleet Decarbonisation Strategy, with its emphasis on hydrogen, is a living example of how this innovative approach to fleet renewal can leverage commercial markets and new investment opportunities. Green Hydrogen for Glasgow, is an "end-to-end" green hydrogen refuelling network led by a partnership including: Scottish Power Renewables, BOC/Linde and ITM Power. The project aims to develop a 10MW electrolyser at Scottish Power's Whitelee Wind Farm near Glasgow to service the city and surrounding region with green, commercial hydrogen fuel within two years.


Transport Scotland is working across sectors to build evidence and awareness of the skills and employment opportunities for Scotland as part of a just transition to new, zero emission technologies across the transport sector. This includes working with ESP (Energy Skills Partnership), Skills Development Scotland and the Skills Academy at the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc. We will support colleges deliver training and accreditation in the skills to support a transition to a zero emission transport system, including in battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells.

Shipping and Aviation

The shipping and aviation sectors have limited low-carbon fuel options available and hydrogen or hydrogen-based fuels may represent an opportunity alongside battery electric options. Fuels such as ammonia (derived of hydrogen), hydrogen or related synthetic fuels have the potential to help address environmental targets in shipping, longer haul aviation and in ferries.

The use of hydrogen fuel cells in the aviation sector may hold promise and trials are taking place in Orkney. Orkney's European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has developed an end-to-end hydrogen refueling solution for ZeroAvia's pioneering hydrogen fuel cell powered electric test flight programme.

Delivery of the refueling solution is a key milestone in the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Innovate UK funded "HyFlyer" project which aims to decarbonise medium range small passenger aircraft by demonstrating hydrogen fuel cell powertrain technology.

HyDIME Project

Scotland is home to the ground-breaking HyDIME (Hydrogen Diesel Injection in a Marine Environment) Project. The project is funded by Innovate UK and is trialing the use of green hydrogen as a fuel for a commercial ferry operating between Shapinsay and Kirkwall in Orkney.

The project design and physical integration of a hydrogen injection system on a commercial passenger and vehicle ferry will be the first of its kind worldwide.

We are closely engaged with this project and believe HyDIME to be an important proving initiative for the safe integration and use of hydrogen on vessels which could provide an important stepping stone to accelerating and de-risking future hydrogen marine projects.

Rail Sector

Scotland's Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan[15] recognises that although, initially, hydrogen fuelled trains are expected to have higher capital and operating costs than diesel trains, the growth and maturity of the market will drive down costs. Recent market engagement with rolling stock manufacturers suggests hydrogen fleets to replace diesel-powered trains are seen as a realistic and affordable option for Scotland in the second half of this decade. Those hydrogen fleets may be used to provide a transitional solution on parts of the network prior to the implementation of electrification infrastructure as well as providing a permanent solution on more remote, less intensively used sections of the network where full scale electrification is either not economic nor desirable for environmental reasons.

Case Study - Zero Emissions Train Project

The Zero Emissions Train project is an exciting hydrogen-focussed initiative currently being developed by Transport Scotland and Scottish Enterprise in response to the Scottish Government's Programme for Government commitment that; "Where we cannot electrify or it is inappropriate to do so, we will invest in battery powered trains and work with developers of hydrogen fuel cell trains to accelerate their development and deployment through practical trials in Scotland."

The project will convert a withdrawn ScotRail Class 314 electric train over to utilising hydrogen fuel cell (FC) traction. The project aims to demonstrate this technology by operating the train on closed rail network by autumn 2021. The project has six key objectives:

  • prove we have the capability to modify an existing item of rolling stock to use hydrogen FC, batteries, control equipment, etc.;
  • work with the regulatory bodies to develop the necessary standards and controls for the use of hydrogen FC power on passenger rolling stock;
  • inform rail policy on the application of such technology on the Scottish passenger rail network in advance of the decarbonisation target of 2035 for Scotland's passenger rail services;
  • demonstrate to Scotland's rail community through practical application the operation of hydrogen FC passenger rolling stock;
  • provide the supply chain with the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge of the application of hydrogen FC technology on passenger rolling stock and hydrogen supply and refuelling infrastructure; and
  • provide educational institutions with the opportunity for research and practical application of hydrogen FC technology within the rail industry.



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