The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is to purchase 25 hydrogen fuel cell buses, which are likely to be deployed on the conurbation’s busiest bus corridor.
Matt Goggins, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s assistant director for bus, told councillors that, subject to agreement with operators, the buses would be introduced on the St Helens – Liverpool corridor, the “most well-used bus route in the Liverpool city-region”.
Bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis and Stagecoach have already tested a hydrogen fuel bus on the corridor.
A hydrogen refuelling station will be built at the BOC Group’s Linde plant in St Helens, which already produces hydrogen for industrial customers.
“The new hydrogen refuelling station will initially deliver 500kg of hydrogen every day,” said Goggins. “The project aims to demonstrate the commercial viability of a model that installs refuellers for high-use fleets to develop a network for future use by passenger cars and other vehicles.”
Goggins said fuel cell buses had a range of 300 to 450km (188-281 miles) and offered “almost the same flexibility as diesel buses in day-to-day operation”.
“While some buses still consume well over 20kg of hydrogen per 100km, newer fuel cell buses now use only eight to nine kilogrammes per 100km.”
The majority of the capital funding will be secured from the city-region’s Transforming Cities Fund allocation.
Goggins said Bus Service Operators Grant needed to be reformed to support hydrogen buses. “Failure to see reform in bus subsidy presents challenges to the viability of the project (BSOG currently benefits the use of diesel over hydrogen or electric). As such, in addition to ongoing discussion with Government on this issue, the project will be designed on a ‘worst subsidy case’ basis.”
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