Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Fleet Gap Analysis Report for Aberdeenshire

08 September 2023 - Published by Louise Napier

With large parts of the North Sea Region consisting of rural or semi-rural hinterland, HyTrEc2 Partners trusted that hydrogen would form an important part of the overall solution for decarbonisation of transport for both freight and commuter journeys in these areas. As a typical North Sea Region rural and semi-rural area, Aberdeenshire Council used the work associated with the HyTrEc2 project to conclude that for its fleet to become zero emission it is not possible to transition to an entire fleet of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) with current technology; hydrogen vehicles will be needed to fill the gap.  This latest report for HyTrEc2 Partner Aberdeenshire Council has also considered the amount of hydrogen that would be needed and where hydrogen refuelling locations would need to be to supply those vehicles as an exemplar scenario study as to how a rural region should approach the transition of a vehicle fleet to zero emissions incorporating hydrogen.  

 Aberdeenshire Council operates a large fleet of vehicles (over 850 units) the vast majority of which have vehicle tracking devices. An analysis of the performance of 85% of the fleet over the course of the year immediately prior to covid was used as the basis of a report into the suitability of various zero emission vehicle technology in a future vehicle replacement programme.  While the vast majority of the fleet has a daily average of around 60miles/ 97km a day, a large number, especially some of the larger vehicles, are travelling in excess of 100miles/ 160km a day. These vehicles would often travel at higher speeds than their city based equivalents and over more arduous terrain.

On average, 30% of Aberdeenshire Council’s fleet were found not meet BEV criteria for current duty cycles. These vehicles become “candidates” for fuel cell hydrogen vehicle consideration and if all these vehicles were to be exchanged for hydrogen fuel cell drive trains then this would give rise to a demand for hydrogen of just under 300,000kg per annum. Of note was the estimate that this included both 86% of the fleet of large vans (over 3.5t GVW) and 68% of the fleet of rigid trucks with 3 axles (26t GVW). It found that by far the largest amount of hydrogen would be needed by the rigid trucks (mostly refuse collection vehicles) with a demand for hydrogen of 110,000kg required per year. 

The study was able to divide the hydrogen candidate vehicles into five hot spots where the vehicles clustered in overnight stabling locations and new hydrogen fuel stations would likely be needed. Innovatively the study was then able to assess for each of those five locations both the demand from hydrogen candidate vehicles that were stabled there and also an additional demand from other vehicles in the fleet that were stabled elsewhere but that could take advantage of hydrogen technology’s advantage of quick fuelling times to take a fuelling fill while the vehicle was passing nearby one of the hot spot locations as part of its normal duties. This additional 47% to 185% in demand was dramatic improvement in the justification for considering building those new stations. Information was also be obtained about daily variations in demand. All this information has already proved especially useful and interesting to both hydrogen station designers and prospective hydrogen fuel producers both within the region for practical development of the hydrogen economy and further afield as an example as to how to assess potential demand in the rural environment.     

For more information view the report here.