In line with its mission to support the decarbonisation of the global transport and energy sectors, Ricardo has announced that it has received UK government funding to create a retrofit hydrogen fuel cell bus demonstrator for the UK’s first hydrogen transport hub in the north-east of England.
To demonstrate progress with its national hydrogen strategy, the UK Government launched the Tees Valley Hydrogen Hub, and initiated the Hydrogen Transport Hub Demonstration competition to showcase real-world hydrogen transport technology solutions. Ricardo submitted a bid with Stagecoach, one of the UK’s main public transport operators, to demonstrate a retrofit hydrogen fuel cell bus. The UK Government’s Department for Transport has named the Ricardo and Stagecoach bid as one of the competition winners and has awarded funding to build a one-off vehicle which will be available for demonstration in the Tees Valley Hydrogen Hub from February 2022.
There are 38,000 buses in service in the UK: 98% are diesel powered; and 50% are less than eight years old. Given the need to find a long-term, sustainable technology solution to meet Government net zero targets for transport, leading UK bus operators have already been seeking advice from Ricardo around hydrogen fuel cell retrofitting.
Teri Hawksworth, Managing Director for Ricardo Automotive and Industrial (EMEA) Division said: “National and local government authorities across the UK are bringing forward their zero emissions targets to 2030. This creates challenges for bus operators who, while still grappling with the financial challenges of the global pandemic, are committed to transitioning to zero emission vehicles. Winning the Hydrogen Transport Hub Demonstration competition will enable us to promote hydrogen fuel cell capabilities for buses in the UK and mainland Europe, and demonstrate the environmental, societal and economic benefits of the circular economy: affordably achieving zero emissions, while extending vehicle lives through retrofitting rather than scrapping vehicles.”
Steve Walker, Stagecoach North East Managing Director, said: “Introducing new low emission technologies to reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions is key to achieving our environmental goals. We are delighted to be working with Ricardo to bring this exciting advancement to the UK’s first hydrogen hub, which represents a huge step forward for the Tees Valley. Stagecoach has invested more than £1billion in greener buses in the past decade and is fully committed to reducing its environmental impact. Our collaboration to help with technical knowledge and extensive driver testing for the inception of this new technology is a further demonstration of our desire to help climate change."
Ricardo will develop a scalable, modular solution, enabling it to be installed, with minimal adaption, to multiple single and double decker platforms. The modular concept may also be saleable as a ‘new fuel cell’ module to coach builders across the European Union enabling them to develop new fuel cell buses by taking a rolling chassis and applying their coach build body alongside the fuel cell module solution.