First vehicles unveiled for Aberdeen’s Hydrogen Bus Project

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The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project marked a major milestone on 19 March with the unveiling of the first vehicles of Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet..

The city council has taken delivery of four of the 10 tri-axle 13m hydrogen buses ordered from Van Hool as part of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project. The others are to be delivered in the coming weeks. The buses will be operated by Stagecoach and First.

The arrival of the buses signals a significant step forward in the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project – the most high-profile of a range of projects designed to create a hydrogen economy in the city.

A 30-mile coastal strip north of Aberdeen is being zoned as a ‘hydrogen highway’, trying out the new fuel technology for transport and a new power grid.

The Aberdeen City Council-led project, which has backing from Europe, the UK Government and the Scottish Government, as well as a broad range of private sector partners, will deliver a hydrogen infrastructure in Aberdeen, including the production of hydrogen from a 1MW electrolyser and establishing a state-of-the-art hydrogen refuelling station, Scotland’s first commercial-scale hydrogen refuelling station that will include hydrogen production through electrolysis, in partnership with BOC.

Funding of 3.3m from the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise enabled Aberdeen City Council to buy the buses.

The fuel cell buses have zero emissions (complete absence of harmful emissions and CO2), and a substantially reduced noise level. They produce water vapour instead of other emissions.

The fuel cells are manufactured by the Canadian company Ballard Power Systems. They work in conjunction with lithium batteries and the Siemens electric motors.

The buses’ hybrid-electric drive sees hydrogen in the fuel cells converted to electricity. Batteries provide additional power where necessary. The hybrid drive, with recovery and reuse of braking energy, sees hydrogen consumption restricted to around 30kg per bus per day.

The buses will be officially launched at the All-Energy conference in Aberdeen on 21 and 22 May, and then gradually integrated into First and Stagecoach operations. They will all be in use on routes across the city by autumn.

The vehicles will be refuelled at Scotland’s first large hydrogen refuelling station, at the council’s Kittybrewster depot. Further refuelling stations are proposed as the project evolves.