England’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered double-decker buses has gone into service in London. 20 fuel cell vehicles by Northern Ireland’s Wrightbus will serve the number 7 route between East Acton and Oxford Circus.
The hydrogen bus fleet is part of a larger push for FCEV in public transport. Transport for London (TfL) has led the UK procurement within the Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE) to buy in bulk with other UK authorities.
Wrightbus is named the sole supplier of FC double-deckers for Great Britain within the project’s scope. As of November, a total of 55 StreetDeck FCEVs are to be deployed in London, Birmingham (20 units) and Aberdeen (15 units).
In total, the JIVE project says it seeks to deploy 139 new fuel cell buses and associated refuelling infrastructure across five European countries and has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. With JIVE II, the initiative now aims to deploy nearly 300 hydrogen-powered buses. As well as cities in the UK, municipalities in Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Iceland are also taking part.
“Our investment in these hydrogen buses is not only helping us to clean up London’s air but is supporting jobs and local economies across the UK,” said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, upon launching the new fuel cell buses.
The buses were manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, and the gas cylinders are manufactured by Luxfer in Nottingham. The hydrogen for the buses is 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 Mayoral Office further expects hydrogen to be even greener as it will be produced by electrolysis powered by a direct connection to an offshore windfarm.
At the moment, a 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.
20 hydrogen-powered double-decker buses have gone into service in London.
Funding came through TfL at around £6 million. More than £5 million of funding has been provided by European bodies such as the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, and the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), an executive agency of the European Commission, as well as £1 million from the Office of Zero-Emission Vehicles.
“London may have one of the cleanest bus fleets in Europe, but we need to continue to act now to tackle climate change and the city’s toxic air quality,” said Geoff Hobbs, Interim Director of Buses at TfL.
“Introducing these hydrogen double decker buses to our fleet, alongside electric buses, diversifies our green bus portfolio and helps us use the right technology for the varying operational requirements of our vast network. This will help Londoners breathe cleaner air.”
Transport for London already has more than 500 electric buses in its fleet, and aims to be zero-emission by 2030.