The first-ever double decker hydrogen bus tour of the UK stopped off at National Express West Midlands to see the strides being made to decarbonise public transport in Birmingham.
The UK Hydrogen Roadshow, a partnership between bus manufacturer Wrightbus, hydrogen distribution firm Ryze Hydrogen, and hydrogen production company INEOS through its INOVYN subsidiary, set off from London on Monday 18 October on a 600-mile journey to Glasgow ahead of the UN’s climate conference, COP26.
The roadshow – taking place on the world’s first hydrogen double decker bus, the Wrightbus Hydroliner – is stopping at various businesses along the way to highlight the potential that low-carbon hydrogen fuel has to play in various industries.
The iconic roadshow bus was greeted on Tuesday (19 October) by “Sylvia” the bus and Sylvia Broadley, Specialist Energy Manager from Birmingham City Council. “Sylvia” is the first of Birmingham City Council’s 20 hydrogen buses, which National Express West Midlands will operate in service later this year.
Made by Wrightbus, the buses have been purchased as part of the Council’s Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot, which aims to ‘kick-start’ the hydrogen market as a viable zero-emission fuel and are hailed as another solution to tackling Birmingham’s poor air quality.
Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Waseem Zaffar said: “I am delighted that we will be introducing hydrogen buses to Birmingham, later this year. This will improve the health of local residents and supports the worldwide movement towards cleaner air and net zero emissions.
“Birmingham City Council has been a leader in the debate on zero-emission public transport policies, at both local and national levels. It took us two years to get to the point of ensuring commercial viability for this type of fuel cell technology so this is great news for the people of our beautiful and inviting city.”
David Bradford, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, said: “National Express West Midlands are proud to be the UK’s greenest transport company. We bought our last ever diesel bus in 2019; and by 2030 our entire 1,600 West Midlands fleet will be zero-emission.
“We already have 29 fully electric buses in Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry and we are excited to be operating Birmingham City Council’s 20 hydrogen double deckers later this year.
“We see these hydrogen buses as pioneers: leading the way where many more buses and other vehicles will follow.”
In addition to National Express West Midlands, the tour visits aviation firm ZeroAvia, construction equipment giant JCB, heating provider Baxi Boilers, hydrogen storage, distribution and dispensing firm NanoSUN and gas distribution logistics experts Suttons Tankers before making its way to a Glasgow school, where pupils will get to find out more about the potential of hydrogen as a fuel.
The roadshow also marks the announcement of a significant partnership between Wrightbus, and INEOS, as the firms work together to create hydrogen solutions that will help decarbonise the transport industry and help the UK achieve its Net Zero goals.
Wrightbus and Ryze CEO, Buta Atwal, said: “We’ve long been excited about the potential benefits that hydrogen can bring, not only in helping the UK to achieve a huge CO2 reduction, but in terms of the green jobs and wider economic benefits that a strong hydrogen sector can bring.
“This tour is really highlighting the fantastic innovation happening up and down the country at firms such as National Express West Midlands as we move towards a zero-carbon future.”
INEOS’ subsidiary INOVYN is Europe’s largest existing operator of electrolysis, the critical technology that uses renewable energy to produce hydrogen for power generation, transportation, and industrial use. The company is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon hydrogen, which it has been safely produced alongside Chlorine and Caustic soda production at Runcorn for over 100 years and currently makes enough every year to fuel over 1,000 buses. INOVYN operates gas storage and has extensive expertise in handling of hydrogen combined with its established know-how in electrolysis technology, putting it in a unique position to supply the fuel to the new emerging hydrogen economy.
Ryze Hydrogen, based in Oxford, distributes hydrogen, and operates hydrogen refuelling stations for fleets. Ryze is a fast-growing business in the market and already provides hydrogen for 20 Transport for London (TFL) hydrogen powered double decker buses.
Wrightbus, based in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, produces hydrogen FCEV buses. They have developed the world’s first hydrogen powered double decker bus which is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain and its battery pack can store up to 48KWh that allows the bus to travel up to 280 miles, emitting water rather than carbon dioxide as it goes.