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The world’s first hydrogen-powered digger has been approved for use on UK roads by the government, according to a recent report by the Department for Transport.

The digger, which was made by British manufacturer JCB, is thought to be the first solely powered by a hydrogen combustion engine. It will soon be available for use on roads and building sites.

Hydrogen-fuelled vehicles and machinery are part of the government’s plan to help decarbonise the UK construction industry. They have allowed JCB a special order to test its backhoe loader on public highways.

As well as reducing emissions, JCB’s hydrogen combustion engine project has created 150 new jobs in the Midlands and could create hundreds more as it expands.

Jesse Norman, the technology and decarbonisation minister, said: “From cars to construction sites, industry has a vital role in decarbonising our economy and creating green jobs and prosperity. 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.”

The government believes that the application of hydrogen power as an alternative fuel will be a way to a net zero future for the UK, especially in areas where other cleaner power sources are less practical or efficient. Ministers have promised an injection of £300,000 into the teaching of hydrogen skills as part of the Tees Valley Hydrogen Transport hub.

Meanwhile, other companies are also looking to incorporate hydrogen power into their products. Plant and road maintenance provider, Multevo, offers a diesel and hydrogen dual-fuel maintenance vehicle, which replaces diesel by up to 40%.

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