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Aberdeen car club has world first with hydrogen cars


Aberdeen's newly-established Commonwheels car club is to be the first in the world to trial hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Next to the new cars are,L-R Charles Purkess of ITM Power, Council leader-elect Barney Crockett,Tony Archer of Commonwheels, Nigel Holmes, CEO, Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Association and Hyundai engineer Jung Kyu Park. Hyundai is loaning Commonwheels two of its left-hand-drive fuel cell vehicles ahead of the All Energy Conference. Energy storage clean fuel firm ITM Power is providing a mobile hydrogen re-fuelling station HFuel to keep the cars running.

Commonwheels members will have the opportunity to drive the Hyundai SUVs, which emit only water vapour, before the renewable energy event at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre where the cars will refuel and be on show, along with other green vehicles, on the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (SHFCA) stand.

Aberdeen City Council chief executive Valerie Watts said: "This is a major coup for Aberdeen and testament to the efforts of the Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure officers involved.

"The council is working to create Scotland's first fleet of hydrogen-powered buses in Aberdeen, using locally produced fuel to power them, with a view to extending the use of hydrogen-fuelled transport in the North-east and Scotland as a whole.

"It is really encouraging that Hyundai recognises the city's ambitious determination to develop expertise in this area and is working with us to promote it as a fuel of the future and fuel celled vehicles as the way forward in transport in the long term."

Council leader-elect Barney Crockett added: "Our citizens, as members of the car club, could be among the first in the world to drive this type of vehicle and the very first to drive it in a car club. This is an opportunity that I'm sure people will be keen to take up, to get a taste of driving the transport of the future.

"Aberdeen is renowned as an energy city and for being keen to drive forward new energy technologies and work with countries across the world to secure its future as an energy leader."

Hyundai's fuel cell vehicle department managing director Tae Won Lim PhD said: "Hyundai recognises Aberdeen's efforts to move towards a greener and cleaner environment and the city's determination to embrace renewable energy and hydrogen technology.

"We are proud to be working with Aberdeen City Council to promote those aspirations and to provide these two vehicles to let citizens see for themselves the benefits of using hydrogen fuel-celled powered vehicles and drive the cars of the future.

Commonwheels will have the use of the cars from 14-18 May in the run-up to the All Energy Conference at the AECC, where the ITM Power mobile fuelling station will be based. Filling Up.

ITM CEO Graham Cooley said: "We are delighted that HFuel will be returning to Scotland, this time to refuel Hyundai's fuel cell electric vehicles and to work with Aberdeen City Council to show the people of Aberdeen and Scotland that they can now drive cars fuelled by their wind."

HFuel makes hydrogen on-site at the point of use, using just water and renewable electricity, so eliminating the need for a fuel delivery and making this trial exemplary in term of carbon savings in clean fuel production and clean vehicle emissions.

Commonwheels Aberdeen development co-ordinator Tony Archer said: "Commonwheels looks forward to the wider availability of hydrogen cars and views them as a great asset for car club operations in the future. Hydrogen cars have great potential to complement car club efforts to reduce carbon emissions from our motoring needs and provide an additional important tool in changing the way we utilise the car.

"Commonwheels is proud to be the first car club in the world to be given the chance to test hydrogen cars in the field and look forward to receiving feed back from those Aberdeen Commonwheels Car Club members who use them during the trial."

The Hyundai ix35 FCEV has been selected by the European Commission as the official demonstration vehicle to test and promote hydrogen fuel call technology in real-life driving conditions.

The latest model boasts similar levels of convenience and performance to conventional internal combustion cars. Its hydrogen capacity gives it a driving range of 525km on a single fuelling.

The Zero Emissions Resource Organisation (ZERO) has successfully driven two Hyundai iX35 fuel cell powered SUVs from Oslo to Monte Carlo, using only existing hydrogen filling stations for refuelling.

The vehicles travelled from Gaustad in Oslo, via Denmark, Hamburg, Cologne, Karlsruhe and Freiburg in Germany and Sassenage in France, before arriving in Monte Carlo. The vehicles covered 2,260 km in the five days en-route to Monte Carlo with no support vehicles or mobile refuellers.

Hydrogen cars are a very important focus for major international car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai. The cars have fuel cells that convert hydrogen to electricity and water. However for most people hydrogen is not yet a practical option, as there is still a lack of hydrogen fuelling stations. The creation of a hydrogen infrastructure is one of the challenges to the wider deployment of fuel cell vehicles, and in the UK this is currently being addressed by the UKH2Mobility programme.

Aberdeen City Council is supporting the multi-million pound Strategic European Hydrogen Transport Projects to introduce the hydrogen buses to the North-east and has secured 9.2million of EU funding, committed to invest 2 million and will secure a further 9.3million for funding project partners.

The expectation is that the projects will stimulate further innovative hydrogen technology projects and high-level investment in the area, realising Aberdeen's aspiration of becoming a world-leading hydrogen city.

The project will see up to a dozen buses operating in the North-east. The fleet, which will operate on routes into central Aberdeen, will be the largest in any European city. The buses will be refuelled at Scotland's first large hydrogen refuelling station which will supply locally generated gas and be able to refuel hydrogen-powered cars as they become available.

The strategic projects provide the opportunity to create 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.

On the road. 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, are considerably more efficient than the fossil-fuelled equivalents and are virtually noise free.

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 indefinitely and used for a variety of purposes including as a transport fuel, injection into the natural gas grid and used to generate electricity at times of peak demand.

The projects and the further opportunities they bring will widen Aberdeen's capabilities in the energy sector and contribute towards its evolution into a true all-energy centre of excellence.

Anyone wishing to find out more about the car club should contact the Commonwheels office on 0845 6028030, email or visit The scheme is open to motorists who have held a full driving licence for at least 12 months and have fewer than six points on it.