Glasgow hydrogen bus hope in time for postponed COP26 conference

Bus manufacturer Wrightbus’s plan for power plant to kick start green fuel revolution.

The hydrogen-powered double deckers are due in Aberdeen in September.

A bus maker is in “active stages of proposals” to build a hydrogen plant in Glasgow that it hopes could see fuel cell buses operating in the city in time for the rearranged COP26 climate change conference.

Wrightbus told The Scotsman it is also lobbying for hydrogen buses in Edinburgh as it prepares to deliver the world’s first such double deckers for use in Aberdeen.

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The Northern Ireland-based firm is due to supply the first 15 of a 20-strong fleet to the city in September, where single-decker hydrogen buses went into service five years ago.

Wrightbus chairman Jo Bamford said he has had "encouraging discussions" with councils across Scotland.

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COP26 has been postponed from November until next year because of Covid-19.

A Glasgow hydrogen filling station would be the first in the Central Belt after Wallyford, off the A1 in East Lothian.

Wrightbus chairman Jo Bamford said: “For hydrogen production to be green and effective, you need an abundance of water and wind - Scotland has both.

“So wouldn’t it be great if Glasgow, as a COP26 city, invested in hydrogen buses that are built in the UK with power generated in Scotland.

“Both Glasgow and Edinburgh can lead the way, not only in hydrogen buses but in the future of hydrogen technology throughout the world.

“As well as getting buses on the streets of both cities, we are in active stages of proposals for a green hydrogen production site in Glasgow.

“Although we are in the initial stages, we believe the project will help us produce enough hydrogen for up to 100 buses.

“We have had encouraging discussions with councils across Scotland.

“Ultimately, we would like to see hydrogen buses buzzing around Glasgow in time for the rescheduled COP26 conference.”

Hydrogen is currently more expensive than diesel, which conventional buses use, but Wrightbus said it had a “fully costed plan to achieve lowest total cost of ownership for zero emission buses”.

It added that buses could be refuelled in seven minutes against several hours for electric ones, which also had only half the range.

First Bus Scotland managing director Andrew Jarvis, the main operator in Aberdeen and Glasgow, said; “We are delighted to be the first bus company to introduce a fleet of hydrogen-powered double decker buses in what will be a world first.”

He said the double deckers “will stand as a trial to see how these vehicles perform and if this is something that is operationally viable”.

Lothian, Edinburgh’s main operator, which has ordered many buses from Wrightbus, said: “Working closely with our suppliers, we continue to monitor evolving technological advances and will assess hydrogen buses in the course of that ongoing evaluation.”

Glasgow City Council plans to run its heavier vehicles such gritters on hydrogen by 2029,

Transport Scotland, which has helped provide £11 million for hydrogen buses and refuelling in Aberdeen, said: “We continue to work with operators, manufacturers and energy companies towards clean, green buses for all Scotland.”

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