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Hydrogen-powered buses could boost UK manufacturing

27 April 2020

New plan will bring thousands of hydrogen-powered buses to UK streets to reduce carbon emissions and create new jobs.

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The plan was suggested by JCB heir, Jo Bamford, who states its “an ideal option for a government that needs to boost UK manufacturing at this critical time, whilst radically reducing our carbon emissions and air pollution.” Mr Bamford has already submitted this idea to ministers.

State-of-the-art buses across Aberdeen, London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Brighton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast will benefit from USB charging points and more spacious seating. The 3,000 strong fleet – about 10 percent of the UK’s total fleet – could be active across the UK by 2024. They release only water vapour and save, roughly, 280,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, which is the equivalent of taking approximately 107,000 cars off the road each year. 

Reported on zenoot, Mr Bamford, who leads a green hydrogen production company, Ryse, and last year acquired Wrightbus, proclaims that zero carbon, UK-made hydrogen technologies must play a pivotal role in driving the British economy forward. The plan could mean the potential creation of 1,000 new UK jobs at Wrightbus and 150 at Ryse Hydrogen and supply chain.

Ryse is already in the process of building the UK’s first hydrogen production plant on the Kent coast which will be powered by a near-by offshore wind farm and use electrolysis to produce hydrogen from water. There are further plans to build another four hydrogen production plants by 2025 to provide enough power for all 3,000 buses.

Mr Bamford highlights, “cities around the world are seeing massive reductions in air pollution as many vehicles have been kept off the road during the pandemic. However, the reality is that if we just go back to how public transport has traditionally been run, levels of pollution will quickly rise again to the same levels as before the crisis. We have an opportunity with hydrogen powered transport to make a huge difference to air quality, and for UK jobs as well. With increased orders on this scale I could increase the workforce at Wrightbus by nearly 700 percent.

“UK-made hydrogen buses are ready to hit the streets today. We already have hydrogen buses in London, and 20 of Wrightbus’ world-leading double deckers will be added to this later this year. We also have orders from Aberdeen, with many other areas becoming interested in our technology – in the UK and across the world.”

Mr Bamford has asked the Government to set aside £500m to unlock the potential of the UK’s hydrogen industry. He sets a clear challenge; “The UK missed the opportunity to become global leaders in battery technology, we must not repeat this mistake with hydrogen. We are already leading the world by making hydrogen buses and boilers. We have a real opportunity to back a sector that will create jobs, economic growth and allow us to claim position as global leaders in hydrogen transport technology.

“With countries across the world also looking to drastically cut their carbon emissions, let’s build an industry that can sell zero carbon products, skills and innovation across the world. We can make significant progress on this in the next five years, but it must start with buses and it must start now.”

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