Europe’s biggest hydrogen-powered bus fleet and now the UK’s biggest hydrogen cell installation are both in Scotland

November 14, 2017

By John Robertson - Scotland

With a little irony, ‘Oil City’, Aberdeen, already has the UK’s largest hydrogen-powered bus fleet. The buses hold only 40Kg of hydrogen and have a range of 260 miles. The project cost £19 million and will make a major contribution to improving air quality in the city. I don’t think Aberdeen has ever had a red alert for pollution levels, like London but it’s good they’re working to pre-empt such a situation in the future.

Europe’s largest fleet of hydrogen-fuelled buses is in Aberdeen

From the Scottish Business News Network:

‘Now the UK’s largest hydrogen fuel cell installation in the UK is being installed at the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC). From the Scottish Business News Network: The cells, which will deliver clean, sustainable and reliable energy for the facility, will have a total electrical output of 1.4MW, which is on a par with the largest fuel cell installations in Europe. UK energy engineering specialist Doosan Babcock has supplied three cells which will provide an independent source of dependable, affordable, low-emission heat and power for the 150-acre site.’

While the wind-farms are getting all the attention setting productivity records monthly, hydrogen-power is an important element in an overall strategy for renewables in Scotland. I don’t know why but I’m guessing there’s a good reason for electric battery-powered cars but hydrogen-powered buses. A scientifically-literate reader will no doubt explain.



Scotland is already ahead of the game in hydrogen production too. For the first time anywhere in the world, the Scottish Government’s £3 million-funded European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) has produced hydrogen gas using electricity generated from tidal energy, in Orkney. Here’s how it works as explained in the EMEC report

‘By harnessing the power of the tide at EMEC’s tidal energy test site at the Fall of Warness, Eday, Orkney, prototype tidal energy converters – Scotrenewables’ SR2000 and Tocardo’s TFS and T2 turbine – fed power into an electrolyser situated next to EMEC’s onshore substation. Supplied by ITM Power, the electrolyser uses the electricity to split water (H2O) into its component parts – hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). The electrolyser is housed in a standard 20’ by 10’ ISO container with hydrogen generation capacity of up to 220kg/24hours.’

Remember, this was done with electricity from one marine turbine in the Orkneys. There’s a four hundred marine turbine field being built in the Pentland Firth.

MAJOR NEWS: World’s first tidal-powered hydrogen generated in Scotland after £3 million funding from SNP Government

Finally, there is a solution to the problem of storing the gas too, but the Germans are ahead of us on this one. I wrote a few weeks ago about a solution to storing surplus energy produced by our already massive renewables capacity to extract hydrogen simply and cheaply and safely from water and to store the gas in tanks on unused oil rigs. It’s already being looked at seriously by the Germans, so you know what that means:

Suddenly there’s a brilliant alternative to oil rig decommissioning costs. You can store Scotland’s surplus renewable electricity with it and it’s low-tech.

featured image (c) Annenberg Learner

You can read more from Professor John Robertson at

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