The EU-funded £19m hydrogen bus project is part of a wider strategy to diversify the Scottish city's economy from oil and gas. Angeli Mehta reports
The Scottish city of Aberdeen is capital of the UK’s oil industry, but it wants to gain new life by becoming a centre for hydrogen energy in Europe.
“We need to diversify our economy and, for me, hydrogen is the best energy vector,” says Councillor Philip Bell, Aberdeen’s spokesman on the city’s £19m hydrogen bus project. Funded through Europe’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, together with national and local government and industry, the city is operating 10 single-deckers made by Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool. London and Birmingham are other beneficiaries of the EU programme; Dundee joins them next year. Project co-ordinator Element Energy says the aim is to overcome the current barriers of vehicle-ownership costs, and to establish low-cost and reliable sources of hydrogen fuel.
Already the price of buses has halved, thanks to economies of scale; the first cost €1.2m. Aberdeen’s hydrogen buses have carried over 1.6 million passengers and travelled almost a million miles in the past three years. The city will get another 10 next year – double-deckers made by Northern Ireland-based Wrightbus.