Europe’s biggest hydrogen-powered bus fleet and now the UK’s biggest hydrogen cell installation are both in Scotland


(c) Annenberg Learner

With a little irony, ‘Oil City’, Aberdeen, already has the UK’s largest hydrogen-powered bus fleet. The buses hold only 40Kg of hydrogen and have a range of 260 miles. The project cost £19 million and will make a major contribution to improving air quality in the city. I don’t think Aberdeen has ever had a red alert for pollution levels, like London but it’s good they’re working to pre-empt such a situation in the future.

Europe’s largest fleet of hydrogen-fuelled buses is in Aberdeen

From the Scottish Business News Network:

‘Now the UK’s largest hydrogen fuel cell installation in the UK is being installed at the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC). From the Scottish Business News Network: The cells, which will deliver clean, sustainable and reliable energy for the facility, will have a total electrical output of 1.4MW, which is on a par with the largest fuel cell installations in Europe. UK energy engineering specialist Doosan Babcock has supplied three cells which will provide an independent source of dependable, affordable, low-emission heat and power for the 150-acre site.’

While the wind-farms are getting all the attention setting productivity records monthly, hydrogen-power is an important element in an overall strategy for renewables in Scotland. I don’t know why but I’m guessing there’s a good reason for electric battery-powered cars but hydrogen-powered buses. A scientifically-literate reader will no doubt explain.

Scotland is already ahead of the game in hydrogen production too. For the first time anywhere in the world, the Scottish Government’s £3 million-funded European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has produced hydrogen gas using electricity generated from tidal energy, in Orkney. Here’s how it works as explained in the EMEC report

‘By harnessing the power of the tide at EMEC’s tidal energy test site at the Fall of Warness, Eday, Orkney, prototype tidal energy converters – Scotrenewables’ SR2000 and Tocardo’s TFS and T2 turbine – fed power into an electrolyser situated next to EMEC’s onshore substation. Supplied by ITM Power, the electrolyser uses the electricity to split water (H2O) into its component parts – hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). The electrolyser is housed in a standard 20’ by 10’ ISO container with hydrogen generation capacity of up to 220kg/24hours.’

Remember, this was done with electricity from one marine turbine in the Orkneys. There’s a four hundred marine turbine field being built in the Pentland Firth.

MAJOR NEWS: World’s first tidal-powered hydrogen generated in Scotland after £3 million funding from SNP Government

Finally, there is a solution to the problem of storing the gas too, but the Germans are ahead of us on this one. I wrote a few weeks ago about a solution to storing surplus energy produced by our already massive renewables capacity to extract hydrogen simply and cheaply and safely from water and to store the gas in tanks on unused oil rigs. It’s already being looked at seriously by the Germans, so you know what that means:

Suddenly there’s a brilliant alternative to oil rig decommissioning costs. You can store Scotland’s surplus renewable electricity with it and it’s low-tech.


21 thoughts on “Europe’s biggest hydrogen-powered bus fleet and now the UK’s biggest hydrogen cell installation are both in Scotland

  1. Bugger (the Panda) November 14, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    Excellent news.

    By the way it is just Orkney, nae plurals necessary or welcomed by the Orcadians



  2. Alasdair Macdonald November 14, 2017 / 4:56 pm

    I am not sure if there is a scientific reason for the seeming dichotomy of electric cars and hydrogen fuelled buses. It might be commercial and political more than scientific.

    While I welcome the fact that these buses are hydrogen fuelled, but there needs to be more done to improve the ambience of public service buses and that has nothing to do with science. My wife and I were in Brighton recently and the quality of the local buses from a passenger comfort perspective was far better than anything in Glasgow (where we live) or London (where our daughter lives). The buses were of a similar size to those we have here, but they were brighter, warmer and airier, the seating was more comfortable, some seats had tables, there was wi-fi. They seemed to be treating passengers with respect rather than just ‘packing them in’. Personally, I think that bus design is a ‘class issue’. Buses, in Glasgow, anyway, are used by less affluent people, people who are sneeringly considered as not wealthy enough to own a car. There is an attitude, I feel, of ‘it’s good enough for people like that’. I raised this matter at a recent seminar which GCC organised about public transport. The representatives of the bus industry and SPT did not think class was a factor, citing the ‘class profile’ of Edinburgh bus users.

    The seminar was pretty good and the bus industry had good ideas. If we are to solve the pollution and congestion issues arising from private car use, the main part of the answer will come from buses, so getting a viable fleet of hydrogen fuelled buses in Aberdeen is a good step forward. Let’s do away with ticketing which slows the average speed of buses, creates pollution die to inefficient fuel combustion, and contributes to congestion.


    • johnrobertson834 November 14, 2017 / 7:02 pm

      The Ayr to Glasgow X77 is quite comfortable but I did share your experience once on a Hamilton to Ayr rattletrap.


  3. macgilleleabhar November 14, 2017 / 6:37 pm

    I have no experience of hydrogen fuel cells but some experience of fork trucks. To run electric fork trucks 24 hours per day you would normally require 3 batteries due to charging times.
    A hydrogen powered vehicle can be refueled in the same time as a diesel. I believe the hydrogen buses also carry a number of batteries to give some extra poke if needed but there is also the benefit of regenerative braking.
    Regenerative braking simply means when you press the go pedal you take energy out of the system but when you press the slow pedal you put some energy back into the system.


  4. Clydebuilt November 14, 2017 / 8:33 pm

    Haven’t been propelled by hydrogen fuel YET. . . . But I’ve always liked Led Zeppelin.

    Regenerative braking. . . Way back in the 70’s one of Glasgow’s technical education facilities developed a go kart with a braking system that stored the energy of braking using this energy to accelerate the kart. . . Any patent would have run out buy now.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Clydebuilt November 14, 2017 / 9:39 pm

        Trying to be clever with a Cryptic reference to Zeppelin airships, (via the excellent rock group) filled with Hydrogen one exploded on landing in America in the 1930’s . . . Dangerous stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Clydebuilt November 14, 2017 / 9:06 pm

      By . . . . not buy . . .


  5. broadbield November 14, 2017 / 9:03 pm

    There’s a report on the Aberdeen project which said: “there is large market potential for fuel cell electric buses in locations where zero emission vehicles are a necessity, i.e. the where diesel cannot compete due to regulation and policy intervention. However, to fully commercialise fuel cell electric bus technology, further technical and economic improvements are needed. By the mid-2020s, industry should aim to bring bus capital costs below £300,000 and infrastructure costs down by at least 60% from 2013 costs. This, combined with lower fuel costs from fuel economy improvements, electricity cost optimisation and grid balancing revenues, will yield a TCO (total cost of ownership) of £113,000 per year per bus which would only have a 6% premium compared to diesel buses.”

    I haven’t read it all, but I think that at present there is a cost premium of around 60% over diesel buses, but it will come down as technology improves and with economies of scale. However, it is vital that the hydrogen is produced from renewable electricity to ensure low greenhouse gas emissions. Cost comparisons with electric (battery) buses is comparable.

    Unfortunately, they don’t analyse the environmental impact associated with batteries which can be considerable. Even so, I intend to get an electric car next year. Fuel cell cars are mega bucks: £50K+ Personally, I think they are the future and not electric.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Clydebuilt November 14, 2017 / 9:03 pm

    O/t . . . Scotland U21’s are playing at St. Mirren’s stadium Tonight. . . Only heard this on BBC Radio Shortbread’s footy show at 7.40,pm . .(too late to go to the match, good way to keep the crowd numbers down) .the reporter told listeners that Flower of Scotland was being played Then talked right through the Anthem.

    Richard Gordon talked over Flower of Scotland during Scotlands last (or 2nd last) game under Gordon Strachan. Then they aired the competitions Anthem uninterrupted.

    Whether you like FoS or not, what right has BBC Shortbread to so openly disrespect our Anthem.


  7. Brian Powell November 15, 2017 / 12:09 pm

    Looking at this and the other article on using the oil rigs as storage for excess energy, would I be right in guessing that we in Scotland will get minimum financial benefit from this as long as we allow ourselves to be run by Westminster?

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Bugger (the Panda) November 15, 2017 / 12:12 pm



    Liked by 2 people

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