‘More on hydrogen buses’ by reader Alasdair Macdonald and further comment by Broadbield



The average age of buses in Glasgow is 10 years (cf Lothian buses, municipally owned, at arms’ length, is 4 years). So, not many hydrogen powered buses there, or even mildly green ones. Glasgow is to become a Low Emission Zone at the end of this year and the city government has been criticised by environmental groups for a ‘lack of ambition’. One of the main sources of pollution is diesel powered vehicles, of which buses are a major contributor. (They are not the only contributor and other sources of pollution need to be brought into line soon). It has been known for some time that restrictions on diesel and emissions and a range of other things would be being phased in fairly soon to meet climate change targets. I suspect that the bus companies in Glasgow – all privately owned, receiving a substantial public subsidy, increasing fares pretty steeply and leaving big areas of the city poorly served by public transport – are dragging their heels over investing their own PRIVATE money into the kinds of buses that Aberdeen and Dundee are buying, in the hope of creating a public outcry to force more PUBLIC money to be pushed their way to fund improvements.

The companies also need to deploy a range of buses of different sizes so that they can have frequent shuttle services around residential areas, which connect with mainstream cross city buses or rail stations, with transfers being effected quickly by smart ticketing.

So we need re-regulation of public transport.

It is not just from a pollution reduction perspective that we need investment in the bus fleet. We need greater comfort for passengers. We need the introduction of cross mode ticketing to speed up journeys. These kinds of things are needed if people are to be tempted out of private cars on to public transport. By shifting people out of private cars, we will further reduce polluting emissions.


I would just add that privatisation is really a tax on customers, often resulting in worse service at higher cost as profits land in the pockets of the executives/shareholders. We need to re-nationalise or otherwise bring transport under public ownership/control and create a truly integrated service that reaches all parts, is cheap, convenient, regular and comfortable.

The latest research breakthrough suggests the hydrogen economy may be nearer than we think: https://www.gasworld.com/solar-hydrogen-breakthrough-at-scottish-university-/2014419.article




6 thoughts on “‘More on hydrogen buses’ by reader Alasdair Macdonald and further comment by Broadbield

  1. David Howdle March 30, 2018 / 10:50 am

    I absolutely agree with your second last paragraph. We were in Queensland visiting family last autumn. They seem to have the the transport system sorted out there (although it’s still diesel unfortunately). Trains (boats in Brisbane) and a plentiful supply of buses form an integrated system. If a bus is slightly late in getting to the station the train waits. And it’s all relatively inexpensive if you use the prepayment card system. Tap your card on the reader when you get on the bus (or train or boat) and tap it again when you get off and the modest fare is deducted from it automatically. And the machines tell you when you need to load up the card again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. macgilleleabhar March 30, 2018 / 12:18 pm

    A whimsical comment . Is there an opportunity for a Solar/Hydrogen plant either on shore or off shore for Tiree?
    Lots of light and almost central for Cal Mac.😚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald. March 30, 2018 / 4:29 pm


      I think the area near Tiree, between Barra Head and the North Irish Coast has excellent tidal power opportunities. The electricity generated by the motion of the generators with the tides could be used in situ to electrolyse seawater, producing hydrogen, which could be piped ashore to places like Tiree where it could be used for fuelling Calmac Ferries.

      Most of the hydrogen could be transported in specially constructed tanker ships to the Clyde where it could then be distributed around the central belt. Pipelines are a possibility from places like Oban, but I think that for economic and environmental reasons might be best. There could be small feeder pipelines to the various small islands in the area to provide local sources of energy, in conjunction with wind and solar power.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Alasdair Macdonald. March 30, 2018 / 4:31 pm

        My opening sentence should read “… wave and tidal power …”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. macgilleleabhar March 30, 2018 / 7:03 pm

    Yes Alasdair , there is a tremendous amount of wave and tidal energy available off the West Coast but when I read Broadbield’s link to the article on Solar- Hydrogen I remembered that Tiree gets the most sunshine in Britain and saw another energy asset that I hadn’t thought of before.

    The Industrial Revolution concentrated manufacturing centers in the areas with available raw materials and energy but I think with the modern energy transmission systems our most beautiful countryside should be safe from over industrialization. An early indicator of this is that Liberty Steel intend to run Dalzell plant and the Lochaber smelter and the planned manufacturing facility with electricity generated with both hydro and wind power from the existing but expanded hydro electric system at Fort William and a new nearby wind farm near Laggan.

    Interesting times and that’s happening without tapping into the tidal or hydrogen related technology and I believe with careful nurturing from an independent Scottish government substantial modern industries can be created.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald. March 31, 2018 / 10:07 am

      One of the things about some of the renewable technologies is that they can be used locally, thus providing independence from reliance on transmission systems like the National Grid, which has a discriminatory pricing system which penalises the areas – such as the Scottish Highlands, which produce the renewable energy – because of their distance from the area of ‘use’ – such as London and the South East where the biggest amount of the population lives. Technologies like ground source heat pumps facilitate the use of the energy produced in the place where it is produced.

      One of Mrs Thatcher’s mantras was ‘There is no alternative’ and that epithet has been applied in many fields, such as the lie that we can only get energy distributed by the National Grid and that that energy can be ‘efficiently’ produced only by nuclear, and fossil fuels (including fracked shale gas) in big production facilities run by a few big corporations.

      Liked by 1 person

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