St Helens gas powered hydrogen bus trial to improve air quality

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram with the hydrogen powered bus
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram with the hydrogen powered bus

A hydrogen bus pilot powered by gas made in St Helens is one of a raft of projects designed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

A climate emergency was declared by Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram at the combined authority’s annual meeting in May.

On Friday, council leaders discussed the progress of a range of measures and initiatives aimed at reducing the city region’s carbon and climate impacts.

Coun Gillian Wood, deputy portfolio holder for low carbon and renewable energy, said the combined authority has made “lots of good progress” in tackling climate change and improving air quality since 2017.

But Coun Wood stressed that it cannot be “business as usual”, saying “fundamental changes” are needed to reach net zero carbon target by 2040.

One of the initiatives in the pipeline is the Hydrogen Bus Project, which will see the creation of a new hydrogen refuelling station at the BOC plant in St Helens.

The project will potentially see up to 25 hydrogen–powered buses on the streets of the city region, emitting nothing but water from the exhaust pipe.

The new hydrogen refuelling station will initially deliver 500kg of hydrogen every day.

Funding for the Hydrogen Bus Project came following a successful £6.4 million bid to the government’s office for low emission vehicles.

Council chiefs hope the project will help the city region’s plans to improve air quality and work towards a net zero carbon economy by 2040, ten years sooner than the government’s own 2050 target.

It is also hoped that the project will 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.

The first hydrogen bus trial is expected to take place in 2020, subject to agreement with the Bus Alliance.

If the trials go ahead as planned, Liverpool City Region will be the first place in the North of England to trial hydrogen buses.

The pilot is just one of a number of climate initiatives, including the Mersey Tidal Power project, being undertaken within the city region.

An air quality task force has also been established to support the collective actions of all six local authorities in the city region to improve air quality.

Mr Rotheram said the city region is “leading the way” on environmental issues.

He said: “We are ahead of the targets that have been set with regards to the government’s 2050 (target). We’re a full decade ahead.

“It’s something we should be singing from the hilltops really.

“We are leading the way on many of these environmental issues and it’s really important because it is a climate emergency.”

Kate Davies, 17, a representative from Youth Strike for Climate Change Liverpool, was invited to talk to council chiefs about the climate crisis.

Ms Davies described the crisis as “terrifying and deadly” and welcomed the decision by the Metro Mayor to declare a climate emergency.

“Declaring a climate emergency means we join the ranks of hundreds of other councils who have declared that they will be fighting back against the crisis,” she said.

“We’re publicly announcing our desire to fight for our futures and the future of every single person in this city.”

Members noted the progress made on tackling climate change and air quality to date and agreed to progress to the next stage of developing a climate action plan by December 2019.