Belfast is set to become the first city in Ireland to have double-decker hydrogen-powered buses in the first major step to decarbonise Northern Ireland’s public transport to zero emissions by 2040.
A consortium comprising Northern Ireland’s public transport operator Translink, Energia Group and Wrightbus have been awarded £1.9m of grant funding from the Hydrogen for Transport Programme (HTP) – a fund supporting the development and deployment of zero emission road transport established by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
The pilot project, Northern Ireland Hydrogen Transport, will also deliver the first ever hydrogen refuelling station of its kind in Ireland.
Wrightbus will build and supply three buses to Translink, which will then refuel at Energia Group’s new hydrogen station in Belfast. Hydrogen supplied to the station will be produced using curtailed electricity from a local wind farm.
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Speaking at the contract signing last month, Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon said, “Along with other executive colleagues, I have a responsibility to this generation of young people and the next generation who will live with the consequences of the climate crisis.”
“That means taking action now, being ambitious despite the challenges we face and working together across the government and private sector to drive the innovative solutions that will be needed.”
“That is exactly what this exciting pilot does. It represents a significant first step to tackling the climate emergency we face and demonstrates how working together and as individuals we can play our part in delivering the ambitions of the Northern Ireland Executive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.”
Energia Group CEO Ian Thom said, “Energia Group is the first energy company on the island of Ireland to have a long-term hydrogen supply contract with a public transport company.”
“Working with our subsidiary in Northern Ireland, Power NI, we are developing a number of solutions which will help facilitate the transition of all segments of the transport sector to help meet climate change and air quality standards.”
“This work is an important part of our commitment as a green energy supplier and we are proud to be a key enabler in the decarbonisation of the public transport sector in Northern Ireland.”
Also involved in the project is HyEnergy who will provide hydrogen technology support and reporting services in the project.
Ian Williamson, HyEnergy’s CEO, said, “This marks the next step in the region’s hydrogen journey. GenComm laid the groundwork for hydrogen production and now we will see a regular hydrogen mobility application for the first time on the island of Ireland.”
“The use of hydrogen in public transport is a great way to improve the public’s perception and, perhaps more importantly, trust in hydrogen as a fuel.”
“As the world’s energy resources keep moving away from fossil fuels, projects like Northern Ireland Hydrogen Transport are important to prove and showcase the possible zero emission solutions for today’s environmental problems.”