First Minister Alex Salmond today gave the green light for a pioneering clean energy hub in Scotland, including Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet, as he announced funding of up to £3.3 million for the EU-backed project.

The Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise funding will enable Aberdeen City Council, supported by Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, to start the project’s first phase with an order for 10 hydrogen fuel-cell buses – which produce water vapour instead of carbon monoxide and other harmful emissions.

They will be operated on First and Stagecoach bus routes in the city by early 2014 and refuelled at Scotland’s first large hydrogen refuelling station, which will also be able to refuel hydrogen-powered passenger cars, as they become available. 

Scottish & Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD), working with industrial gases and clean energy technologies business BOC, will develop an integrated ‘whole hydrogen’ system which can harness wind energy to produce and store hydrogen that is then used as fuel for the bus fleet, as well as for generating electricity at times of peak demand.

The First Minister said:

“Through our Green Bus Fund, the Scottish Government is already supporting the roll-out of 74 low carbon buses, such as diesel-electric hybrids, to reduce harmful vehicle emissions.  Hydrogen buses will produce zero local emissions.  Aberdeen is already Europe’s offshore energy capital and this exciting new project can help position it as a leading city for low carbon technology and green transport.  With a strong group of project partners, this initiative will boost Scotland’s profile as a key hydrogen technology hub and a world-leading investment location for pioneering low carbon energy and transport systems.”

The Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise have each committed up to £1.65 million to support the project, which has also received funding from the European Commission, and the UK Technology Strategy Board. In addition to the City Council, SSE and the two bus operators, other project partners include Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, Ballard Power Systems, BOC, Scotia Gas Networks and Van Hool.

Aberdeen City Council leader Barney Crockett commented:

“This funding is a vital contribution to Aberdeen City Council and its partners’ work to introduce a fleet of hydrogen buses to the area.  I believe this initiative will stimulate further innovative hydrogen technology projects and attract even more high-level investment to this city.  It is a crucial step towards Aberdeen becoming a world-leading, smart hydrogen city.”

Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of First UK Bus said:

“This is an exciting, ground-breaking project which we are delighted to be a part of, particularly in our home city, Aberdeen. Throughout the UK, First is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, particularly emissions from our buses.  We already operate 68 hybrid vehicles, including 10 in Scotland, with a further 41 on order across the UK and have made tremendous advances in engineering which has reduced our fuel consumption.  This project therefore is a natural fit, and one we hope that will be very successful.  We're looking forward to operating the hydrogen buses.”

Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director, Stagecoach Bluebird, added:

“Bus travel can deliver huge environmental advantages over taking the car. Powering vehicles from renewable sources such as hydrogen can make the bus an even greener and smarter option. We already source energy for one of our bus depots in Aberdeenshire using geothermal heat extracted from the ground, as well as harvesting rainwater to clean our buses. Locally-generated hydrogen fuel is an exciting prospect and will complement the range of measures we are taking across Stagecoach Group to grow our business sustainably and help our customers cut their carbon footprint.”


# Louperdowg 2012-08-15 00:53
A good news story to counter all the Ian Davidson guff that has been poisoning the atmosphere recently.
# art1001 2012-08-15 07:11
Lets not get too enthusiastic about until we consider the alternatives.

I think hydrogen buses do not stack up well against lithium ion based battery/plug in buses that also support wireless charging at various points on the duty cycle. Hydrogen is a never, never land being promoted substantially by big oil. I see this is a blind alley and a poor use of public funds.

Electric buses were a missed opportunity as an alternative to trams in Edinburgh. Just think how many thousands of buses that 500+ million would have bought? They could have been built in Falkirk by Alexanders, exported worldwide and provided thousands of permanent jobs.
# Embradon 2012-08-15 08:41
Hydrogen is the future. It can be manufactured anywhere with any form of green energy.
It is a particularly good way of storing energy from intermittent sources such as wind or surplus energy from, for example, tidal generation.
The sooner we develop distribution capacity, the better we will be placed to take advantage.
# art1001 2012-08-15 23:54
Hydrogen has been 'the future' for decades now. It is not a good way of storing energy as it involves expensive facilities to deal with it safely. Developing distribution capacity would be hugely expensive compared to simply using the grid that already exists.

Spending money on hydrogen R&D is a waste of public money. If the oil companies want to do it then well and good but let us not waste public money.
# Embradon 2012-08-16 01:36
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is already available and further R&D is already being carried out.
It is largely resistance from big oil that has delayed it - e.g. the myth that hydrogen is dangerous. While any flammable gas is potentially dangerous, hydrogen is much safer than petrol as escapes tend to disperse quickly.
It could, potentially, be distributed as a domestic fuel through the existing gas system.
# Wee-Scamp 2012-08-15 08:05
Belgian manufactured buses with fuel cells produced by a Canadian company and the hydrogen being supplied by a German owned company. That's another opportunity missed then.
# Angus 2012-08-15 11:51
I dont know anything about Hydrogen power, but this is very interesting.
If Hydrogen is the future its good that Scotland is promoting it.
# Caadfael 2012-08-15 15:11
Alexander of Falkirk/Plaxton's do a pretty smart line in coaches ..
AFC Energy for fuel cells, or Oxford Catalysts, ITM, PPS and doubtless a few more are all in the mix and closer to home.
It has also been posited that H2 could be generated by electrolysis when there is an excess of windpower and stored to be used via fuell cells when the wind drops.
# UpSpake 2012-08-16 07:25
Just one small question in all this renewables stuff. What is the operating cost per hour of these hydrogen buses as opposed to standard diesel buses or hybrid ?.
In a country soon to be peppered by windmills all over the place, what happens when I see them out the window but can't afford to flick on a switch to use their expensive energy ?.
Fuel poverty this year is set to affect 50% of Scots households. Are these plans being enacted to raise that figure to 90% ?.
# Highland Tiger 2012-08-16 11:23
I wish folk who oppose renewable energy would get their terminology right, A mill produces flour, and was either wind or water powered, so all these "windmills" that people oppose aren't producing flour!

Anyway, renewable energy can take many forms, and the countryside won't be littered with wind turbines, there are other areas, much less obtrusive, that are under development. Osmotic power, for example, takes advantage of the difference in the salinity of fresh water and sea water and is under trial in Norway:

Scotland has a massive coastline that could take advantage of this technology using micro generation plants that won’t spoil the countryside.

Using electrolysis to create hydrogen, as mentioned by Caadfael, is a way of storing energy for later use, we just have to look back to the recent past and the use of gasometers

If an Independent Scotland is to succeed, we need to invest in the future and look at new technologies that will not only create wealth for the country, but give its citizens cheap energy. As fossil fuel runs out, the cost will continue to increase, so it won't be renewable energy that will put 90% of households into fuel poverty. Like any new technology, as it matures and becomes more efficient, the cost will come down, but we have to go through the initial high cost pain barrier at some point. Better now than later, when fossil fuel runs out.
# tartanfever 2012-08-16 11:31
So according to UpSpake the 18% hike on prices from B.Gas and the like last year is due to renewables is it ?

So tell us what you're idea is then UpSpake, what do the all-seeing SDA have down as their energy policy ?
# DonaldMhor 2012-08-16 08:46

It is a fair bet that the costs per hour as against a standard diesel bus will be more as this technology, aka "renewables stuff" by you, is what is known as emerging technology. The point of all this renewables stuff is that it is renewable and clean. Whether or not we believe global warming is man made or natural is another side of the debate. I believe that we need to live on this planet in a much cleaner sustainable manner and stop leaving filth like Dounreay behind us for our children and theirs. As with all emerging technology the price drops as it becomes more common and plentiful which is what The Hydrogen Centre in Fife and the wind turbines are doing. It has been shown that wind generation is making electricity cheaper on the spot markets.
is a good report on why we are right to avoid any further nuclear development. It is filthy, dangerous, and the most expensive means on earth of boiling water.
is another good reason.

We are very close to the point where wind energy can and will be stored as hydrogen. Global companies like BMW, Honda and Diahatsu, have working fuel cell cars on the road right now. These companies are not building these cars for fun. All that comes out of the exhaust is water vapour. Hydrogen is less dangerous than petrol as countless test have proven, see them on You Tube or Google. Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements in the universe, unlike uranium. It can be produced harvested and stored without causing pollution, unlike uranium. And it along with free wind and tidal energy is our future. The nukes are very worried for very good reason.

You talk about expensive energy. For as long as I can remember it has been the case that deaths in Scotland in winter increase to such a point that the crematoriums in Glasgow struggle to cope with demand. That is a direct result of fuel poverty and poverty. There are many more ways to deal with fuel poverty the most fundamental being good building regs and good insulation. Putting people in concrete cells with no insulation was the way to go post war when houses were flung together like rabbit hutches. Since the 50s we have paid subsidies to the nuclear industry, massive subsidies that are kept secret as nuclear power was inextricably linked to WMDs and of national security importance. We will be paying those subsidies for as far in to the future as any one dare look as nuclear decommissions their poison. The USA was the driving force. No one when asked can bring them selves to admit that, but it is true. We were lied to that nuclear power would become to cheap to meter, it was a lie them and it is a lie now. So subsidies for power generation are not a new phenomenon, it is just that we have an SNP government no who are taking a different path to London that it has all suddenly become beastly and awful. London cannot accept that their time of telling Scotland what to do and think has gone for ever.

I am proud of the SNPs approach to power generation and renewables. Their stated policy of re industrialising Scotland on the back of this emerging technology is exactly what we need and would never have got if God help us Johann Lamont or Ian Gray were still in power, as they would simply toady to London.

Your point about wind turbines peppering the landscape are just silly. Humans as they migrate and move around this planet create structures and systems to allow them to live comfortably, buildings, airports, roads, harbours, forests, and much more. 68% of us when asked have no problem with the wind turbines and they do not affect house prices. If London got it's way Scotland would be preserved in aspic as a Victorian theme park with docile cap doffing natives, ready to make their dreams come true every August. Scotland has moved on.
# Breeks 2012-08-16 11:43
Hydrogen isn't just produced by electrolysis. It can also be produced by Biohydrogen Reactors, (or released by algae in other words).

Early days, but Hydrogen does have massive potential.

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