The UK’s first hydrogen production and bus refuelling station was officially opened today, as part of a £19 million green transport demonstration project.
Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing was joined by BOC’s director of Bulk and Packaged Gases Nathan Palmer and Transport Scotland chief executive David Middleton to open the station, which will fuel Europe’s largest hydrogen bus fleet.
The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project, which has backing from Europe, the UK Government and the Scottish Government, as well as a broad range of private sector partners, is the most high-profile of a range of projects designed to create a hydrogen economy in the city.
It will deliver a hydrogen infrastructure in Aberdeen in 2015, including the production of hydrogen at the UK’s first commercial-scale hydrogen production and bus refuelling station, as well as a purpose-built hydrogen fuel cell vehicle maintenance facility.
The refuelling station, at Aberdeen City Council’s Kittybrewster depot, is owned and operated by BOC, a Member of the Linde Group, and has been delivered as part of the Aberdeen City Council-led project which is testing the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen transport technologies and aims to drive the development of hydrogen technologies.
It will fuel 10 Van Hool hydrogen fuel cell buses – six of which will be operated by Stagecoach on the X17 Aberdeen city centre to Westhill route, while First will operate four on the X40 Kingswells to Bridge of Don Park and Ride route. The buses will only emit water vapour, reducing carbon emissions and air pollution, as well as being quieter and smoother to run than diesel vehicles.
Project partners, funders and guests journeyed by hydrogen bus to the refuelling station, where they were given guided tours and the technology behind the facility and the buses was explained to them.
Council leader Jenny Laing said: “As a leading world energy city determined to anchor the renewables industry in the North-east of Scotland, the success of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project is a real coup.
“We’ve got a lot to be proud of: we not only have Europe’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses running on the streets of Aberdeen, but we also have the UK’s first and largest hydrogen production and bus refuelling station, with plans in place for further hydrogen stations which will be capable of fuelling other vehicles, including cars.
“We have a very clear Hydrogen Strategy for the future and are on the cusp of realising our aspiration of becoming a world-leading city for low carbon technology, while maintaining our position as a leading world energy city.
“The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project is a very important demonstration project which will help to inform the growth and development of hydrogen technologies and the hydrogen industry, as well as a strong hydrogen economy in Aberdeen. The benefits of this project will be felt locally, nationally and internationally.”
Nathan Palmer said: "BOC is extremely proud to be part of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project, a ground-breaking demonstration of low carbon public transport in which Aberdeen is setting the standards, not just for Scotland, but also for Europe. This investment is proof of BOC's commitment, as a Member of The Linde Group, to clean energy, and of the value of working in partnership with others who share a vision for a cleaner future.
"BOC is now ready for its next project on the hydrogen highway. We want to work with other committed partners delivering a step-change in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK."
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: “The Scottish Government is supporting the introduction of cleaner and greener transport options across Scotland. Aberdeen’s new fleet of zero emission hydrogen buses are one of the most exciting of these. The public will welcome the smoother and quieter journeys these buses bring which will undoubtedly add to the attractiveness of this mode as a travel choice.
“This means the project isn’t just good news for transport - it also demonstrates how we can use hydrogen as energy from renewables, which integrates our energy and transport sectors, as well as making the most of Scotland’s vast renewable energy resources.”
The project has been co-funded by Scottish, UK and European partners: the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK (£2.4million); Scottish Government (£1.7 million); Scottish Enterprise (£1.7million); Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) through the High V.LO-City and HyTransit projects (£8.3million); Aberdeen City Council (£2million); First (£1million); Stagecoach (£1million); Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution £750,000; and Scotland Gas Network £200,000. BOC has invested £1million in the hydrogen production and refuelling station.
The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) executive director, Bert De Colvenaer said: “As the European funding instrument for fuel cells and hydrogen technologies, the FCH JU is very proud to welcome the opening of Scotland’s first hydrogen production and bus refuelling station. This event highlights an important milestone in the implementation of Europe’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses in Aberdeen, co-financed through two projects funded by the FCH JU: High V.LO-City and HyTransit.”
The project is part of the H2 Aberdeen initiative which provides the opportunity to create a new industry and greater choice in energy production and usage, as well as enabling the development of a hydrogen strategy for the Energetica Development Corridor and the city as a whole.
Building on Aberdeen's world-wide reputation in the energy industry, the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project will enable the development and deployment of hydrogen infrastructure. This work will open the way for new and innovative hydrogen technology projects and accelerate the commercial use of hydrogen as a fuel, offering green transport solutions.
Stewart Reid, head of Future Networks at Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution, said: “Innovation is driving the move to a low carbon economy and it’s great to see a project develop from an idea through to delivery. We are delighted to have been part of this project and it’s great to see it up and running. New technologies, like Aberdeen’s hydrogen fuelled buses, will play a crucial role in balancing the country’s future energy needs, while helping to keep the costs of energy down.”
SGN network director Paul Denniff said: "As part of creating a sustainable gas network for the future, SGN is interested in decarbonising the gas network. Hydrogen is part of our strategy which is why we are supporting, and can utilise any learning from, this innovative project."
The use of hydrogen as a transport fuel offers great promise as a key component of a low carbon energy system. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit no harmful emissions, and are virtually noise free.
Van Hool N.V. CEO Filip Van Hool said: “As the coordinator of the High VLOCity fuel cell bus project, a partner in HyTransit and the supplier of the fuel cell buses, Van Hool is very proud to be an intrinsic part of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project, the largest fuel cell bus deployment in all of Europe.
“We congratulate the team on this achievement and the professionalism with which it was accomplished, despite the many challenges. Operated by First and Stagecoach in a very demanding service in Scotland, it will show the degree of readiness of the technology and constitute a benchmark for projects to come. We are all looking forward to the benefits of zero emission buses in real life operation.”
Steve Walker, managing director of Stagecoach North Scotland, said: "The launch of this project is great news for our customers who will be able to travel on even greener vehicles than before. We are committed to reducing the impact of our operations on the environment through a number of measures including alternative fuels, energy efficiency, increased recycling and reduced water consumption and we will continue to work to further reduce our carbon footprint in the months and years to come."
First Aberdeen managing director David Phillips said: "We are delighted to be a partner in this exciting and ground-breaking project for Aberdeen. Our four hydrogen-powered vehicles are already out in service and proving really popular with customers.
"The hydrogen buses complement our £4.3m investment last year in 26 micro-hybrid vehicles, one of the world's most fuel efficient buses. We are working hard to improve services and encourage more people out of their cars and on to the bus. Investment in environmentally friendly, state of the art vehicles is key to our strategy, with the hydrogen buses very much our flagships."
The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project partners are: Aberdeen City Council; the Scottish Government; Scottish Enterprise; Innovate UK; Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution; BOC; Van Hool; First; Stagecoach; Scotland Gas Networks; and Element Energy.
The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project is part of the HyTrEc (Hydrogen Transport Economy) transnational project which involves: working with EU partners around North Sea to facilitate transnational co-operation and learning; enhancing the competitiveness of the North Sea Region in hydrogen development; and providing a platform for joined-up working towards a hydrogen strategy across the North Sea region.