England’s first hydrogen buses

Hydrogen double deckers launched to reduce London’s carbon footprint and tackle toxic air in the capital

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 25 June 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched England’s first hydrogen doubledecker buses, marking a step towards making the bus fleet zero-emission and cleaning up London’s toxic air. 
 
The 20 new environmentally friendly buses, the first of their kind to be launched in England, will produce no pollution from their exhausts and join more than 500 zero-emission electric buses in the core fleet.

The new hydrogen fuel cell doubledecker buses are first being introduced on route 7 between East Acton and Oxford Circus.

How hydrogen works

Hydrogen used in a fuel cell is free from harmful emissions. The only by-product is water from the chemical reaction of hydrogen with oxygen from air, a process that produces electricity to power the bus.

The buses will help clean up the air and improve the health of Londoners by reducing the level of harmful nitrogen oxide in the air.

Passengers will also benefit from smoother, quieter journeys due to fewer vibrations and will be able to take advantage of free-to-use USB charging points.

‘At Wrightbus, we’re incredibly proud to be launching our world-first zero emission hydrogen doubledeckers onto the streets of London to help turn its iconic red buses green. London residents – and visitors to the capital from around the world – can experience what it’s like to ride in a UK-made hydrogen-fuelled vehicle that produces no harmful emissions from its exhaust.

‘Thanks to TfL’s visionary approach, the city will have the first fleet of hydrogen doubledeckers in England and the benefits to the city in terms of CO2 reduction will be significant. We hope that other cities around the country will follow London’s lead and help us in our ambition to decarbonise public transport and improve air quality.’

BUTA ATWAL
Wrightbus CEO

Supporting UK jobs

 
The buses were manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, helping to create new jobs, and the gas cylinders are manufactured by Luxfer in Nottingham.

The hydrogen for the buses is currently being 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 hydrogen will be even greener as it will be produced by electrolysis powered by a direct connection to an offshore wind farm.

‘We have made real progress in London to clean up our air, but we still have a long way to go because toxic air pollution in our city is still leading to thousands of premature deaths every year and is stunting the growth of children’s lungs. As part of our world-leading ongoing efforts, I’m proud to announce England’s first hydrogen doubledecker buses, which don’t produce any harmful emissions, will now be put into service. 
 
‘Our investment in these hydrogen buses is not only helping us to clean up London’s air, but is supporting jobs and local economics across the UK. This is a great demonstration of how tackling air pollution and the climate crisis and boosting economic growth is about regions working together, investing in the very latest technology.
 
‘I’ve worked hard to ensure TfL’s entire core bus fleet across London now meets the ULEZ standards, and this includes 500 electric buses. Our new investment in hydrogen buses will move us even closer to our ambition of making all London buses zero-emission by 2030.’

SADIQ KHAN
The Mayor of London

A new, state-of-the-art 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.

Cheaper hydrogen buses

In addition to around £6 million of funding from TfL, more than £5 million of funding has been provided by European bodies – by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking and the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), an executive agency of the European Commission. £1 million was provided by the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles.
 
TfL has paved the way for cheaper hydrogen buses across the rest of the UK; it led the UK procurement within the Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE), to buy in bulk with other UK authorities.

In total, the JIVE project seeks to deploy 139 new zero-emission fuel cell buses and associated refuelling infrastructure across five European countries and has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
 
With sustained financial support from the Government, TfL could look to accelerate its plans for a zero-emission bus fleet from 2037 to 2030 in order to reduce carbon emissions and address the public health emergency caused by dirty air.

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