Hydrogen Buses Coming to Birmingham

Written on the 6th November, 2017

At the end of October 2017, Birmingham City Council agreed to a £13.4 million project which will trial up to 22 hydrogen fuel cell buses. The  Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot project involves  grant contributions from the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH-JU) Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) Local Growth Fund and future Council Programme resources.  The project aims to reduce NO2 emissions on key bus routes in the city and will support the Council in achieving air quality compliance standards.

The pilot is designed to test the potential of developing a hydrogen market to encourage the take-up of zero emission transport fuels, with the buses set to be the first hydrogen vehicles in the city. The buses will be fuelled by hydrogen produced at Tyseley Energy Park which will become a zero emission transport hub. The Park will become operational by September 2018, with the new hydrogen buses being re-fuelled there from March 2019.

The hydrogen will be generated from an on-site electrolyser at Tyseley Energy Park.  The  renewable electricity used in the electrolyser will be provided by Birmingham Bio Power Ltd.  It will be produced from renewable energy from its low emission wood biomass power plant.  The plant converts recovered wood into electricity using gasification and not burning the wood to produce electricity.  The City Council states that  this method has not been used either in the UK or the EU.  The Tail to Wheel (TTW) emissions will be zero and in terms of the Well to Wheel (WTW) emissions, there are some carbon emissions associated with producing the fuel but compared with using electricity from the Grid,  the carbon savings are significant.

Birmingham City Council has two procurement processes to go through.  These procurements include the Bus Operator and the Bus Manufacturer.  The tender for the Bus Operator should be awarded at the end of this year.  The procurement for the Bus Manufacturer will be done as part of the FCH-JU’s JIVE1 project where there will  be a UK procurement process and then a local competition.  The UK process is being undertaken with co-operation with Transport for London and Aberdeen City Council.  It is expected that the tender for the manufacture of the buses will be let in March next year and that the buses will be in operation in March 2019.


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