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The wheels on the hydrogen bus go round and round


A group of youngsters at a north-east daycare centre got a special visit – from one of Aberdeen's new hydrogen buses.

The children, who attend Dreams Daycare, have been watching, fascinated, as the striking new vehicles have been delivered to Stagecoach's nearby Insch depot in recent months. They have paid such close attention to what's been going on in the very early training and testing phases that the centre's staff asked if the children could see one of the vehicles up close.

The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project team went one step further and arranged a special visit, during which the children, their parents and the daycare centre's staff were able to board the bus, have a good look around it, view the hydrogen fuel cell, and learn more about the buses and the project from the team.

Enterprise, Strategic Planning and Infrastructure convener Councillor Barney Crockett said: "The level of attention which the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project has attracted has been really spectacular and I'm not at all surprised that the children at Dreams Daycare, which is on the depot's doorstep, were intrigued by these fantastic vehicles.

"Aberdeen has great aspirations for hydrogen and is making real progress in establishing itself as a European leader in this renewable energy industry. Hydrogen promises great things for the future as a clean energy and vehicle fuel source and it is essential that we capture the interest and imaginations of the young people who will not only benefit from a cleaner environment as a result of new hydrogen technologies, but also in the years to come have the opportunity to work in this growing industry.

"I am delighted we have been able to give these youngsters and their parents and carers the opportunity to find out more about the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project and to be among the first people to actually board one of our fantastic new buses."

A Dreams Daycare spokeswoman said: "The children have been very excited to learn about the new bus and its impact on the environment. The younger ones have been looking forward to getting inside it and the older ones wanted to learn more about the hydrogen side.

"We are very lucky to have such a resource on our doorstep. We fully encourage our children at Dreams to utilise our local community and learn about ways to make our immediate world more economically friendly and protect our environment."

The council ordered 10 of the hydrogen vehicles from Belgian firm Van Hool as part of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project. It will be the largest fleet of hydrogen vehicles in Europe. Six of the buses will be operated by Stagecoach and four by First on city routes.

The Aberdeen City Council-led project, which has backing from Europe, the UK Government and the Scottish Government, as well as a broad range of private sector partners, is the most high-profile of a range of projects designed to create a hydrogen economy in the city.

It will deliver a hydrogen infrastructure in Aberdeen, which will include the production of hydrogen from a 1MW electrolyser and establishing Scotland's first commercial-scale hydrogen refuelling system, which will include hydrogen production through electrolysis, in partnership with BOC.

The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project is a large-scale bus demonstration project. It is testing the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen transport technologies and aims to drive the development of hydrogen technologies.

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 emissions, and are virtually noise free.

Because this hydrogen technology is so new, a considerable amount of education and learning must be carried out before the buses start carrying passengers. The arrival of the buses has been planned in advance of the hydrogen production and re-fuelling facility completion to ensure driver training, technician training and other operational planning can be completed prior to passenger operations commencing.

The vehicles will be refuelled at Scotland's first large hydrogen refuelling station, at the council's Kittybrewster depot. Further refuelling stations are proposed across the city as the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project evolves.

The bus project is part of the Aberdeen hydrogen project H2 Aberdeen, which provides the opportunity to create a new industry and greater choice in energy production and usage, as well as enabling the development of a hydrogen strategy for the Energetica Development Corridor.

It is also part of the HyTrEc (Hydrogen Transport Economy) transnational project which involves: working with EU partners around North Sea to facilitate transnational co-operation and learning; enhancing the competitiveness of the North Sea Region in hydrogen development; and providing a platform for joined-up working towards a hydrogen strategy across the North Sea region.

As well as the benefits to the transport sector, hydrogen has a potentially vital role in the broader energy storage system – if it is generated from intermittent renewable electricity sources, such as wind turbines, it can be stored and used for a variety of purposes including injection into the natural gas grid and used to generate electricity at times of peak demand.

The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project partners are: Aberdeen City Council; Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG); the Scottish Government; Scottish Enterprise; Technology Strategy Board; Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution; BOC; Van Hool; First; Stagecoach; Scotland Gas Networks; and Element Energy.