First Aberdeen, part of the multinational company First Group which originated in the city, is to run 15 hybrid double decker buses starting this summer.
It will be the world’s first hydrogen-powered double decker buses in operation and there will be testing with the new vehicles this spring, before a wider public roll-out in the summer months.
The new £8.3 million project has been funded by Aberdeen City Council, the Scottish Government, and the European Union (FCH JU), with an investment of about £500,000 per vehicle.
The buses are as efficient as electric equivalents, with refuelling taking less than 10 minutes and offering a greater range.
The UK’s first hydrogen production and bus refuelling station was opened in Aberdeen in 2015, as part of a £19m green transport demonstration project.
The Aberdeen City Council-led project tested the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen transport technologies and aims to drive the development of hydrogen technologies.
Jenny Laing, Aberdeen City Council co-leader councillor, said: “Aberdeen is at the forefront of developing green technologies and our continued innovative commitment to hydrogen truly puts us on the global map.
“The new buses come with even better technology helping to tackle air pollution in the city and further makes Aberdeen an entrepreneurial and technological leader by pushing boundaries for hydrogen.”
David Phillips, operations director for First Aberdeen, said the company is in the process of adapting its depot to accommodate the hydrogen vehicles and is upskilling all its staff to accommodate this next generation of buses.
The vehicles will be operated by First will be mainly on the Service 19 (Peterculter to Tillydrone) and the Service X27 (City Centre to Aberdeen International Airport via Dyce station) routes and is part funded by the European Union’s JIVE project, which aims to aid commercialisation of hydrogen buses through joint procurement between cities. Cities that will follow Aberdeen’s footsteps include London and Birmingham, with Dundee and Brighton and Hove being lead partners in JIVE2.
Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Scotland has some of the most ambitious emission reduction targets in the world so, in the years to come, I expect we will begin to see many more ‘greener and cleaner’ transport solutions like this begin to emerge.
“We are currently undertaking a wide-ranging project to assess the potential for hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells for use in transport and heating across Scotland. Hydrogen could well play an important role in the energy transition that’s required in order to meet our 2045 net zero emissions target.”
The buses have been produced by a UK-based company – Wrightbus based in Northern Ireland - and will complement the existing fleet that the city already boasts including a range of hydrogen and electric vans and cars through a car share scheme.