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Council backs major hydrogen transport project

25/01/12

Aberdeen city councillors have unanimously agreed to support a multi-million pound European project to introduce hydrogen buses in the North-east.

The expectation is that the Strategic European Hydrogen Transport 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 the first hydrogen bus deployment in Scotland, with 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 city council has secured 9.2million of EU funding towards the projects, has committed to contribute 2million over four years and will secure a further 9.3million of funding from project partners.

At a meeting of the Full Council, councillors approved the authority's participation in the High V.Lo City, HyTransit, HyTrEc and LOWCAP cluster projects, subject to securing 90% of additional funding from external partners.

The projects will bring 12 hydrogen buses and a hydrogen filling station to the North-east, initially securing approximately 20.5million of investment to Aberdeen, with the potential for considerable investment and development opportunities in the field.

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.

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 and Aberdeenshire's capabilities in the energy sector and contribute towards its evolution into a true all-energy centre of excellence.

Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure vice-convener John Corall said: "This will act as a catalyst for major new technology.

"London and Copenhagen have hydrogen buses and taxis, but we have the skills expertise in Aberdeen that neither of these cities have. That makes Aberdeen ideally placed to really grasp this exciting, evolving new side to the energy industry and really cement our place as a world energy hub on the renewables front as well as in the more traditional oil and gas sector."