Starting a new Spring in FC bus deployment the City of Aberdeen the first week of March put in service 4 of the 10 Van Hool fuel cell hybride buses, the first week of March . See below excerpts of the article in On Route of March 4, 2015 (Photo: On Route):
Aberdeen will shortly become the second city in the UK to operate zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses, when 10 Van Hool A330 tri-axles enter service later this month. They will be operated by First and Stagecoach. Tim Deakin reports from the Granite City. Entry into service within the next few weeks of 10 completely zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-powered Van Hool A330s places the bus industry at the forefront of what Aberdeen City Council (ACC) hopes will become a commercially-viable ‘hydrogen economy’ in the UK’s oil capital. In yet another example of the bus sector showing the way in transport innovation and partnership, project leader ACC says the Van Hools will also begin the area’s transformation into “a world leader for low carbon technology.” The 13.2m A330s, built in Belgium and able to carry up to 70 passengers, are part of the multi-stakeholder Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project (AHBP) and will be the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen-powered buses now that 20 operated in Whistler, Canada have been removed from service. As a large-scale, three-year demonstration, AHBP is part of the H2 Aberdeen initiative, which provides the opportunity to create a new industry and greater choice in energy production. The £20m project includes construction of a hydrogen production plant and refuelling station. Owned by ACC, the Van Hools will be operated by First Aberdeen (four) and Stagecoach Bluebird (six). The uneven split is understood to be a result of the Aberdeen demonstration having originally consisted of six buses funded by the HyTransit project; four additional buses were added after another European city’s decision to pull out of the similar but separate HyVloCity scheme. One of each operator’s was present at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre last Thursday (26 February), when it was announced that their long-awaited entry into service is at last imminent. The routes they are to work were also confirmed. First’s will be used alongside Volvo B10BLEs on high-profile service X40, which serves the Bridge of Don and Kingswells park-and-ride sites, while Stagecoach’s will be employed among Alexander Dennis Enviro300s on the high-frequency X17 between Aberdeen and Elrick, west of the city.
“This announcement is a clear commitment by First and Stagecoach to bring these buses into service in the very near future, once they have completed driver training and the hydrogen refuelling station is fully commissioned,” says ACC Leader Councillor Jenny Laing.
True zero emissions
The A330s have been purchased at a cost of around £1m per bus, and the first four were delivered in March 2014 (routeone, News, 19 March 2014). Much of the remainder of the project’s funding has gone into construction of a hydrogen production plant and refuelling station at ACC’s Kittybrewster depot and associated infrastructure. Testing shows that refuelling takes around four minutes, says Stagecoach North Scotland MD Steve Walker; each bus is expected to use around 30kg of hydrogen per day. Unlike the existing hydrogen bus refuelling facility at Tower Transit’s Lea Interchange depot in east London, which relies on hydrogen delivered by tanker, it is produced at Kittybrewster by a 1MW electrolyser. Electricity required for this process is windfarm-generated. The electrolyser is connected to a water main and splits the liquid into its constituent elements, with the hydrogen being used to fuel the buses. It has been built in partnership with industrial gas specialist BOC. Each bus has 10 roof-mounted tanks for hydrogen storage. Range is expected to be in the region of 190 miles, says Mr Walker, although Van Hool claims that identical vehicles in other countries have achieved around 220 miles between refuelling. Unladen weight is 15,800kg. First has trained 25 drivers on the A330s and Stagecoach 30, say Mr Walker and First Aberdeen MD David Phillips; all are volunteers. First and Stagecoach have each contributed £1m to the project. From an operator’s point of view, bringing the hydrogen buses to Aberdeen “is a reputational thing as much as anything, and complements our existing ‘green’ ethos,” continues Mr Walker. The buses’ environmentally-friendly credentials will also play a part in First’s marketing plans, says Mr Phillips. “Using them on our park-and-ride service gives the opportunity to encourage more car users to make the switch to our buses. “They will help support our ongoing efforts to improve services. Our marketing will be focused on their environmental and green aspects.”