Cleaner hydrogen buses to be given green light

Published: Monday, 23rd October 2017

Cabinet is being asked to approve a pilot scheme which will see at least 20 new cleaner, zero emission hydrogen-fuelled buses take to Birmingham’s roads.

The scheme aims to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels on key bus routes which in turn will support the council in its work to reduce air pollution and become compliant with air quality legislation.

A report due to go before Cabinet on October 24 asks members to approve the full business case for the pilot, as well as giving the go-ahead to find a bus operator via an open tender process and using the Transport for London Hydrogen Bus Framework to purchase the proposed vehicles, which will be delivered by March 2019.

Funding for the £13.4 million pilot includes grant contributions from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCHJU), the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) Local Growth Fund and approved Future Council Programme resources.

The pilot is designed to test the potential of developing a hydrogen market to encourage the take-up of zero emission transport fuels, with the buses set to be the first hydrogen vehicles in the city. The buses will be fuelled by hydrogen produced at Tyseley Energy Park, which will continue to be developed as the first UK low/zero-emission refuelling hub for commercial and public sector vehicles, ranging from buses and bin wagons to vans and taxis. Tyseley Energy Park will become operational by September 2018, with the new hydrogen buses being re-fuelled there from March 2019.

Councillor Stewart Stacey, Cabinet Member for Transport and Roads, said: “Public transport plays a key role in encouraging people to leave their cars at home and choose alternative methods of travelling around the city, which in turn will help reduce both congestion on our roads and the impact of vehicle emissions on the environment.

“It therefore follows that we must look at ways to make public transport more environmentally friendly too, which is why this hydrogen bus pilot is so important. If successful, this could completely change bus travel in a way that will benefit the entire city.”

Councillor Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Air Quality, said: “Air pollution is a major public health issuing affecting us all. We are clear that every single person in Birmingham has the right to clean air.

“While we recognise that we face a significant challenge in meeting air quality compliance standards in the city, the introduction of hydrogen fuelled buses as part of this pilot is a hugely positive step forward in supporting the work we are doing towards achieving that.”

The full cabinet report can be read here.