Energy secretary sees progress of JCB’s hydrogen engine innovation

Claire Coutinho MP

UK energy secretary Claire Coutinho MP has visited JCB to see the progress being made by the manufacturer on decarbonisation using hydrogen combustion engine technology.

The visit started at JCB Power Systems, where a team of more than 150 engineers are engaged in developing hi-tech hydrogen combustion engines for use in JCB machinery.

More than 120 engines have been produced so far and many machines powered by these engines are currently undergoing evaluation.

Ms Coutinho said, “It was terrific to visit JCB to see their pioneering hydrogen combustion engines powering a new generation of diggers. Countries around the world are queuing up to work with brilliant UK businesses, like JCB.

“It’s our great British tradition of innovation that is creating well-paid jobs across the country and helping us export our world-leading climate change tech. When it comes to net zero, I want Britain to reap the rewards and prosperity it can bring rather than punishing hard working families and businesses. It is incredibly inspiring to see the levels of innovation, dedication, and enthusiasm throughout JCB.”

Ms Coutinho met JCB chairman Anthony Bamford, who is spearheading the firm’s hydrogen developments. He explained that JCB had already successfully launched a range of battery-electric compact machines, with more than 20,000 battery-electric machines already sold. He went on to highlight that battery-electric technology was largely unsuitable for heavier equipment due to the higher energy demands, and the longer working hours of such machinery in remote locations where access to grid connections is limited.

At JCB’s Staffordshire proving ground, the energy secretary was shown a hydrogen-powered Loadall telehandler at work. After sitting in the cab of a hydrogen-powered JCB backhoe loader, she tried her hand at refuelling the machine with hydrogen, which took only a matter of minutes thanks to a purpose-designed mobile refuelling bowser.

Ms Coutinho added, “JCB hydrogen combustion engine technology is cutting edge, and it’s going to help Britain stay at the front of the race when it comes to climate change.”

Lord Bamford commented, “It was a pleasure for the JCB team to show the secretary of state the wonderful progress that JCB’s British engineers are making in developing a zero-carbon solution to power our machines of the future. They will need to be powered by something other than fossil fuels and super-efficient, affordable, high-tech hydrogen combustion engines with zero emissions can be answer for the construction industry and agriculture. What’s more, they can be brought to market quickly using our existing supply base.”