Fuel Cell Manufacturing

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 16th July 2019.

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Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Chair, Treasury Committee

What steps the Government are taking to help improve the viability of fuel cell manufacturing in the UK.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

We provide support through Innovate UK for early-stage fuel cell technologies, and through the Advanced Propulsion Centre and the energy entrepreneurs fund as those technologies mature towards the market. Our £23 million hydrogen for transport programme is expanding refuelling infrastructure, and fuel cell vehicles are eligible for consumer incentives, which helps to increase demand. Two weeks ago, I was at No. 10 with Intelligent Energy, a company in my right hon. Friend’s constituency, considering further opportunities for fuel cell deployment.

Photo of Nicky Morgan Nicky Morgan Chair, Treasury Committee

I thank the Minister very much indeed for that answer; it sounds almost as if he knew I was going to raise Intelligent Energy, which is based in my constituency and, as he obviously knows, manufactures hydrogen fuel cells, having developed the technology. Will he confirm that the Government are technology neutral when it comes to identifying future technologies? To follow on from the previous question, do the Minister and the Department appreciate the opportunities for factories where diesel engines are no longer going to be manufactured to get into the manufacture of the next generation of engines, which should be fuelled by hydrogen fuel cells?

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I agree strongly with my right hon. Friend: there is huge potential for the auto sector. The Government are committed to policies that are technology neutral as we achieve the ambitions that we set out in the Road to Zero strategy around a year ago. The Government support the development of hydrogen as a transport fuel and we are in step with international progress. However, we acknowledge that we need to go further and faster in all different types of technologies.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

We have certainly had some impressive improvements since the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill in 2017, but will the Minister outline what recent steps have been taken to secure this manufacturing facility, which was so central to the Bill and its goal?

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I missed the manufacturing facility that the hon. Gentleman referred to, but I am more than happy to work with him and others. I have been working closely with colleagues in Northern Ireland on a range of issues, and I am keen to meet the hon. Gentleman who is a tireless champion on behalf of industry in his part of the United Kingdom.