Ministers welcome arrival of first hydrogen powered buses in Northern Ireland18 December 2020

Left to right: Buta Atwal, Wrightbus CEO; Chris Conway, Translink group chief executive; Ian Thom, Energia Group CEO; Nichola Mallon, Northern Ireland infrastructure minister

The first three hydrogen-powered double decker buses built by Wrightbus have entered service in Belfast.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Transport Minister Rachel Maclean have welcomed the first hydrogen powered double decker buses entering service in Northern Ireland. The buses will operate on Translink Metro services across Belfast.

Wrightbus Chairman Jo Bamford said: “We are incredibly proud to supply the first-ever hydrogen-powered double decker buses in Ireland, and we’re just as proud to be building them locally in Ballymena.”

The fuel cell buses were purchased by Translink under an existing framework contract from Wrightbus. They will run on fully sustainable hydrogen, which will be produced by electrolysis at one of Energia’s wind farms in North Antrim. During periods of low electricity demand, when the wind farm output would normally be curtailed or reduced, the pilot facility will produce hydrogen. The hydrogen electrolyser project is supported by GenComm, with funding from the EU’s Interreg programme.

The arrival of the buses is the culmination of a zero emissions bus pilot project powered by renewably-produced hydrogen from wind energy. Translink together with the Energia Group formed a consortium which successfully bid for part funding from the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) with the remainder of funding from the Department for Infrastructure. The overall capital investment represents around £4 million.

In addition, Translink has received funding of almost £66million for the purchase of 145 zero- and low-emission buses that will enter the Translink fleet during 2021/22.

Transport Engineer

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