A group of industry leaders and academics has challenged the Government’s alleged bias against hydrogen buses in its pursuit of decarbonising public transport.
The Hydrogen All Party Parliamentary Group has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps claiming the Government’s decision to trial only electric buses does not maximise opportunities on offer and calls for an All Hydrogen Bus Town.
Earlier this year the Government announced plans for an Electric Bus Town, which has seen councils bidding for a £50m grant to buy new battery electric buses. The scheme explicitly prohibits hydrogen electric buses being purchased in this plan, despite there being a growing demand for them across the country.
Backed by energy giants Shell and Bosch, as well as the Campaign for Better Transport and local authority clean air network UK100, the APPG describes this decision as missing “a vital opportunity to trial clean, green, UK-made technology at a significant scale”.
Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar and chair of the Hydrogen APPG, said:
“We can’t have our eggs all in one basket and it’s important that we look at alternative fuels like hydrogen as a way of achieving this.”
"Hydrogen stands to play a major role in a zero emission economy and creating an All Hydrogen Bus Town provides the opportunity for thousands of green jobs, in areas like Teesside, and will unlock innovation in a number of sectors, placing the UK as global leaders in hydrogen technology.
“We cannot allow Coronavirus to knock us off course to achieving net zero,and delivering an All Hydrogen Bus Town would be a hugely symbolic indication to businesses across the world, that the UK continues to be the place to invest, research and manufacture hydrogen technologies".
Buta Atwal, chief executive of Wrightbus, a bus manufacturer based in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, that last week announced plans to build 3,000 hydrogen buses, said:
“We created the world’s first hydrogen electric double decker buses, which emit only water as they move around cities.
“These buses will enter service in London and Aberdeen this year, with more cities after that. It is bizarre that a British designed and built bus is not eligible to be bought by a local council under this government scheme.”
Engineering and technology giant Bosch said the creation of an All Hydrogen Bus Town would send a message that the UK is a smart place for businesses to make long term investment and manufacturing decisions.
Eman Martin-Vignerte, head of Bosch’s UK governmental and political relationships, said:
"We believe hydrogen will play a major role in heating homes, powering transport and heavy industry. We are already manufacturing hydrogen-ready boilers at our site in the West Midlands, and we're looking to the government to take some ambitious, positive steps to help unlock the UK's hydrogen potential.
"Creating an All Hydrogen Bus Town would be a powerful statement to businesses looking to make long term investment decisions".