The Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot looks to ‘kick-start’ the hydrogen market as a viable zero-emission fuel with the procurement and deployment of 20 hydrogen buses in Birmingham. The buses, which are made by Wrightbus and are the world's first zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cell double deckers, will be introduced with National Express West Midlands from April 2021.
It’s intended that pilot will be the catalyst for the next generation of hydrogen buses, hydrogen production and re-fuelling infrastructure development. The council have also collaborated with ITM, who will be producing and dispensing the hydrogen fuel from the new re-fuelling hub at Tyseley Energy Park.
Hydrogen buses consume four times less fuel in comparison to standard diesel buses, covering 300 miles on a single tank and with the ability to refuel within 7-10 minutes.
They emit water vapour, meaning no carbon dioxide or other harmful gases are being pumped in to the air. Hailed as another solution to tackling the city’s poor air quality and a key step towards achieving the council’s net zero carbon target, each bus is expected to save up to 79.3 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per annum.
Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Waseem Zaffar said: “I’m delighted that we will be introducing hydrogen buses to Birmingham next year. Fuel cell buses offer a practical solution for cities to decarbonise public transport and immediately improve air quality.
“It has taken us two years to get to a point where we can ensure commercial viability for this type of fuel cell technology and is great news for our city and the rest of the region.
“This pilot is a significant step towards our net zero carbon target and will provide Birmingham with a leading role in informing debate on supportive policies for zero emission public transport at a local and national level.”
The buses are being manufactured by Wrightbus, who are also supplying vehicles to Aberdeen and London as a first in the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell double decker buses in the UK and within Europe. The buses will be operated in Birmingham by National Express, with an ambition to run them on the new Sprint route when it opens.
The development will see the start of fuel cell technology supply chains within the region and will help to support a brand-new service and maintenance apprenticeship programme. It has been funded through OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles), GBSLEP (Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership), Birmingham City Council and JIVE project funding from the FCH JU (European Funding from the Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) under grant agreement No 735582.
The FCH JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research.