The first hydrogen buses, which produce water vapor rather than carbon emissions, in Scotland could be operating on the nation’s roads in less than two years. This comes as First Minister Alex Salmond revealed that £3.3 million will be made available to fund a fleet of the new buses. The funding will be used for Aberdeen City Council to order ten buses, and it could be the biggest hydrogen bus fleet in Europe.
Under the project, the vehicles could transport passengers on routes throughout Aberdeen by early 2014. The new hydrogen buses could be refuelled at the first big hydrogen refuelling station in Scotland. An integrated whole hydrogen system will be developed by SSE Power Distribution. The goal is to harness wind energy to produce and store hydrogen, which will then be used to fuel the bus fleet. The system would also refuel hydrogen-powered cars when they start selling on the market. The buses will be operated on Stagecoach and First routes in Aberdeen.
When announcing the funding, Salmond said that the Scottish government is supporting the roll-out of 74 low-carbon buses through its Green Bus Fund – including diesel-electric hybrids. Hydrogen buses won’t produce any local emissions. Aberdeen is the offshore energy capital of Europe already, he added, and this thrilling new project will help position it as a leading city for green mobility solutions and low-carbon technology.
The Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise have dedicated as much as £1.65 million for the initiative. The European Commission and UK Technology Strategy Board will also make funds available. Other project partners include Belgian busmaker Van Hool; Scotia Gas Networks; leading industrial, medical and special gases provider BOC; Ballard Power Systems; and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group.
Aberdeen City Council leader Barney Crockett says the funding will make an essential contribution to the council’s and its partners’ work to introduce a hydrogen bus fleet to the area. He believes this project will stimulate more innovative hydrogen technology initiatives, as well as attract more high-level investment to the city. He added that this is a vital step towards making the city a smart, world-leading hydrogen city.
SSE Power Distribution director of distribution Stuart Hogarth says this project is ambitious. It will allow them to explore new means of managing energy flows on their network and should help keep energy costs down in the future. They are please to help introduce a new form of sustainable transport, he added, and to work with partners who are experts in their fields.
Stagecoach will play a key role in the new project, as they will be operating the hydrogen buses on their Aberdeen routes. Stagecoach Bluebird managing director Andrew Jarvis says that bus travel can provide big environmental advantages to driving a car. The group’s new hybrid electric buses provide a 30% reduction in carbon emissions in comparison to standard buses. It has ordered over 200 of these for its UK operations.
Furthermore, the group has other carbon reduction projects underway – including the use of sustainable biofuels, investing in high-tech eco-driving technology, and installing state-of-the-art energy management systems. They also take measures to reduce waste and encourage recycling.
Jarvis added that powering vehicles from renewables – like hydrogen – can make buses an even smarter and greener transport option. They already use geothermal heat for one of their Aberdeenshire bus depots, and they harvest rainwater to clean the buses. Locally-generated hydrogen is a thrilling prospect and will supplement the measures they are already taking across the group to expand their business sustainably and help consumers reduce their carbon footprint.Author's Google+ page