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Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the North of England’s gas distributer, took delivery of a new hydrogen-powered car at its Thorpe Park offices in Leeds last month.

The car will be officially launched at the new inTEGReL facility near Newcastle in September, which, led by NGN, working with Newcastle University and Northern Powergrid and in partnership with the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, aims to become a UK leader in integrated technologies – removing the traditional barriers between gas, electricity and heat to create altogether more fluid and efficient ways to generate, store and transport energy.

The Mirai has an electric motor that drives the wheels just like an electric car but the difference lies in where the electricity is generated from. It is fuelled by hydrogen that is delivered to the ‘fuel cell,’ along with oxygen from the air, to chemically react and produce power in the form of electricity.

The car will be refuelled at ITM’s filling station in Rotherham, which is powered directly from a renewable wind turbine source, with the only tailpipe emission from the car being drinkable water.

Mark Horsley, Chief Executive Officer for Northern Gas Networks, said: “The Government’s announcement that the sale of petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040 is a stark reminder that we must do more if we are to meet the 2050 Climate Change Challenge.

We simply can’t do that with electric and hybrid vehicles alone as they aren’t a viable option for heavy vehicles and commercial fleet, or long-distance driving.”

The Toyota Mirari can travel almost three-times the distance of the average electric vehicle and takes less than five minutes to refuel in comparison of up to four-hours for a plug-in vehicle.

Unlike an electric car, that uses fossil fuels to produce the energy required to charge the car, hydrogen makes up 75% of the universe we live in and is in abundance compared to fossil fuels and produces no harmful exhaust emissions.

Mr Horsley continued: “For Britain to have a real chance of achieving its clear air quality targets, we must start to invest in the supporting infrastructure to make hydrogen fuel cell vehicles a truly viable and sustainable option.  Hydrogen is an extremely versatile source of energy, and all the evidence so far from our H21 project, indicates existing gas networks can be used to transport it.”

Northern Gas Networks’ H21 project provides compelling evidence to support UK gas grid conversion from natural gas (methane) to 100% hydrogen, using the city of Leeds as a blueprint. Further information about the project can be found at: www.northerngasnetworks.co.uk/futures

The hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai will join NGN’s green fleet of cars and will be used to promote hydrogen both internally and to external stakeholders as a fuel of the future for both heating and transport.

NGN currently has three CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles that are used to promote providing a cleaner, greener fuel alternative to petrol and diesel.

Anyone that smells gas or suspects carbon monoxide should call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999. This line is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.