England’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered double-decker buses has gone into service in London today. Twenty fuel cell vehicles by Northern Ireland’s Wrightbus will serve the number 7 route between East Acton and Oxford Circus.
Transport for London (TfL) already has more than 500 electric buses in its fleet as it aims to be zero-emission by 2030. Upon launching the new fuel cell buses today, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Our investment in these hydrogen buses is not only helping us to clean up London’s air but is supporting jobs and local economies across the UK.”
The buses were manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, and the gas cylinders are manufactured by Luxfer in Nottingham. The hydrogen for the buses is produced at Air Liquide’s plant in Runcorn, harnessing waste hydrogen as a by-product from an industrial chlor-alkali plant. Oxford-based Ryze Hydrogen is responsible for transporting the fuel to the fuelling station. From 2023, the Mayoral Office further expects hydrogen to be even greener as it will be produced by electrolysis powered by a direct connection to an offshore windfarm.
At the moment, a fuelling station completed by Danish engineering firm Nel Hydrogen will top up each hydrogen fuel cell bus just once per day in as little as five minutes.
Funding came through TfL at about 6 million pounds; more than £5 million of funding has been provided by European bodies such as the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, and the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), an executive agency of the European Commission as well as £1 million from the Office of Zero-Emission Vehicles.
The hydrogen bus fleet is part of a larger push for FCEV in public transport. TfL has led the UK procurement within the Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE) to buy in bulk with other UK authorities. Wrightbus is named the sole supplier of FC double-deckers for Great Britain within the project’s scope. As of November, a total of 55 StreetDeck FCEVs are to be deployed in London, Birmingham (20units) and Aberdeen (15 units).
In total, the JIVE project says it seeks to deploy 139 new fuel cell buses and associated refuelling infrastructure across five European countries and has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. With JIVE II, the initiative now targets to deploy nearly 300 hydrogen-powered buses. Apart from UK cities, municipalities in Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Iceland are also taking part.