The world’s first backhoe loader powered by a hydrogen combustion engine will soon be on UK roads and building sites following recent government approval, helping to decarbonise the UK’s construction industry.
Hydrogen is not yet an approved fuel for certain vehicles on UK roads, such as construction equipment. But the UK government has given special dispensation, under Section 44 of the Road Traffic Act, to allow JCB to test and use its hydrogen-combustion powered backhoe.
With 25% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions coming from the built environment, it’s vital the entire construction industry looks to decarbonise at every stage.
JCB has already created 150 new jobs in the Midlands with the promise of hundreds more as the company’s hydrogen project advances. These developments also help to equip the country with the skills and expertise to not only reduce emissions but provide learning to would-be apprentices, future-proofing the nation’s skillset.
“From cars to construction sites, industry has a vital role in decarbonising our economy and creating green jobs and prosperity,” says 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.”
JCB’s prototype hydrogen-powered backhoe loader is an important first step in the construction industry’s efforts to decarbonise in what is a ‘hard to decarbonise’ 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.
“Securing this vehicle special order from the Department for Transport is an important first step in getting JCB machines that are powered by hydrogen combustion engines to and from British building sites using the public highway. It’s an endorsement that JCB is on the right path in pursuit of its net zero ambitions,” says JCB chairman Lord Bamford.
“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. 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.”