The Anonymous Widower

Ballymena: Wrightbus To Develop Hydrogen Production Facility

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the sub-heading.

Wrightbus is planning to develop a green hydrogen production facility at its factory in Ballymena.

And these first three paragraphs outline the project.

The proposal is being made in partnership with a sister company, Hygen Energy.

Part of the Wrightbus business is the manufacturing of hydrogen-powered buses, some of which are operated by Translink.

The new facility would help create a reliable source of fuel for those buses and other hydrogen-powered vehicles.

It seems a well-designed project and it appears Hygen are building a similar facility in Bradford.

Some months ago, I had a drink in my house, with three senior London bus company executives.

One has had problems with electric buses, as getting the required power to charge a fleet in some Central London garages is not easy.

I showed them these figures, from the Wrightbus web site.

  • A Wrightbus electric double-decker takes 2.5 hours to charge for a 200 mile range.
  • A hydrogen double-decker takes 8 minutes to refuel with up to a 280 miles range.

They were impressed. Especially, as a typical duty for a bus in London is almost 200 miles. A hydrogen bus seemed to make a lot more sense.

So why isn’t London preparing for scores of hydrogen buses?

Ask the Mayor!

February 14, 2023 - Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. Part of the problem is the supply chain for hydrogen is non-existent. Hydrogen is hard to transport by lorry (low energy density and needing very strong high pressure vessels, to the amount of useful H2 per truck is low compared to other road fuels), and very energy intensive and slow to make on site (and making it by “cracking” hydrocarbons creates a localised pollution). The energy input for local manufacture means you still have a difficult energy challenge in London although you can put a plant a short distance away and mitigate the transport limitations (trucks shuttling multiple times per day from plant to bus depot keeping up with demand into local tankage, so the buses don’t have to spend too long off route, or have the buses drive to a remote fuelling depot overnight).

    The optimal answer is the one people tend to dislike for visual reasons: trolleybuses (with significant batteries for diversion flexiblity and in-motion charging)

    Comment by MilesT | February 14, 2023 | Reply

  2. Regarding your comments about your conversation with three bus executives, I doubt that further hydrogen powered buses will be rushing along soon.
    The first 20 hydrogen buses built by Wrightbus and operated by Metroline were cost a total of £10.85 million which equates to £543k per bus. Grant funding of £1.41m was provided by the UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles, and €5.22m from the Fuels Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (a European Union funded research organisation) which reduced the net cost of the vehicles to TfL to £238k per bus.
    Unless central government comes up with the funds (there’s no more money from EU institutions) or the price tumbles overnight the vast majority of buses joining London’s fleet which are directly purchased or leased by operators will not be hydrogen powered, they’re simply too expensive at the moment.

    Comment by fammorris | February 14, 2023 | Reply

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