Hydrogen buses to hit the streets of Dublin with new trial

9 Nov 2020

From left: Steve Tormey, Toyota Ireland and Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport Eamon Ryan, TD. Image: Paul Sharp

A bus powered by a hydrogen fuel cell will start operating on a trial basis in Dublin, Hydrogen Mobility Ireland has confirmed.

The first ever hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) put into public service in Ireland will soon take to the roads of Dublin as part of a multiweek, in-service trial. It will see a hydrogen-powered bus travel on different routes operated by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus, as well as by Dublin City University and Dublin Airport in November and December.

The Caetano ‘H2.CityGold’ pre-production bus will be powered by a 60kW Toyota fuel stack and will run on hydrogen produced in Dublin by BOC Gases Ireland using electricity and water. Unlike electric vehicles, which are charged through a cable, FCEVs are refuelled in a similar way to petrol or diesel cars.

However, in this instance, pressurised hydrogen gas is pumped into a tank on board the car, which is combined in a fuel cell with oxygen to power an electric motor. The resulting waste product emitted from the back of the car is just water vapour, unlike internal combustion engine vehicles.

The trial aims to examine how hydrogen buses perform in everyday conditions and in challenging winter weather. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the bus will carry a limited number of passengers.

Hydrogen Mobility Ireland (HMI) – a consortium made up of Government representatives, auto manufacturers, researchers, industry stakeholders and the ESB – is overseeing the trial in conjunction with the Department of Transport.

‘First step into the future’

Early next year, the National Transport Authority will trial a number of double-decker FCEVs on public roads, while Energia in Northern Ireland will soon start producing hydrogen fuel at a windfarm in Co Antrim for use in buses in Belfast.

HMI, which launched last year, claimed that FCEVs could eliminate 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually if adopted on Irish roads. In an ideal scenario, the group said there would be a national hydrogen-powered fleet of 2,000 HGVs, 880 bus and coaches, 6,800 vans and 29,000 cars by 2030.

HMI chair Mark Teevan said the trial is a “first step into the future for Ireland, enabling us to begin to envisage the practical solutions that will allow us to fully decarbonise road transport”.

The Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan, TD, welcomed the trial.

“Moving our urban bus fleet to cleaner and greener technologies is essential if we are to further reduce the carbon footprint of our public transport system and limit air pollutant emissions in our cities,” he said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic