Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub & Bus Project Announced by First Minister Alex Salmond

15 Aug 2012

High V.LO-City

First Minister Alex Salmond has given 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."

Professor John Irvine, Chairman of the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, added “This is an extremely important announcement for the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell industry in Scotland showing that we are able to lead in the application of these important technologies.  It opens the doors for us to support ever increasing and more effective utilisation of renewable electricity.  Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are able to move energy from the electrical domain to transport, heat or even chemicals and so utilise much more effectively what we produce.  In turn, this decreases carbon dioxide emissions even further whilst enhancing energy security.”

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."

Scottish Enterprise Director of Energy & Low Carbon Technologies Adrian Gillespie said: "In supporting this project we can help to realise the long-term benefits of investing in hydrogen infrastructure. By providing a means of managing or storing surplus electricity from wind-farms, this project could play a vital role in enabling the management and storage of Scotland's vast renewables resources. The recently-published Smart Grid Sector Strategy estimates that the UK market for energy management products and services will be worth over £1.2 billion by 2020. As well as creating opportunities for companies already involved in hydrogen-related technologies, this project could also create opportunities for companies in other sectors to diversify their activities into the hydrogen production and storage market."

Hydrogen is an energy carrier, like electricity, that requires a source of primary energy to make it. Currently, most global hydrogen production comes from fossil fuels but it can also be produced from electrolysis, using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. 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 local emissions, have a much higher efficiency than fossil-fuelled equivalents and are virtually noise-free. Hydrogen can also be generated from a wide range of sources, offering improved energy security and, if generated from renewables, one of few routes to fully decarbonise road transport.

Beyond benefits for the transport sector, hydrogen has a potentially vital role in energy storage. Hydrogen generated from renewable electricity sources such as wind can be stored and then used for a variety of end uses including regenerating electricity at times of peak demand, and potentially as a way of decarbonising the natural gas network. Hydrogen technologies can play a key role in facilitating the mass deployment of renewables and are rapidly developing to the point of technical and commercial maturity. The Aberdeen demonstration project is an important step on the path to the commercial use of hydrogen as a fuel, addressing both transportation and energy storage aspects of hydrogen technologies.

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Source: SHFCA.

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