A St Helens gas plant will have a crucial role to play in an ambitious project to get a fleet of environmentally-friendly buses on the region's roads.
The BOC plant in the town, which produces hydrogen for industrial customers, will have a new refuelling station created there as part of the Liverpool City Region Hydrogen Bus Project.
The area will become the first in the North of England to trial hydrogen buses following a successful £6.4m bid to the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles.
The project will potentially see up to 25 hydrogen–powered buses on the streets of the region, emitting nothing but water from the exhaust pipe, and will contribute to the city region’s plans both to improve air quality and work towards a zero carbon economy by 2040.
The first bus trial is expected to take place in 2020, subject to agreement with the Bus Alliance.
The new hydrogen refuelling station will initially deliver 500kg of hydrogen every day. 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.
Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Mayor, said: “With a low-carbon economy worth more than £2bn a year, we are already in the vanguard of the green energy revolution and the Liverpool City Region Hydrogen Bus Project is another very exciting step in that direction.
“Introducing commercially-viable hydrogen-powered buses would not only help our city region tackle poor air quality and achieve our ambition of being zero carbon by 2040 but would put us at the forefront of a technology that could be transformative for the rest of the country and beyond.”
Jan Ellringmann, BOC Head of Sales and Marketing, said: “As the market leader in industrial gases in the UK, BOC has produced hydrogen safely and efficiently for many decades, including from our site at St Helens.
"As pioneers of hydrogen’s use in low-carbon transport - commercial vehicles and cars as well as buses - BOC is delighted to be working with the project partners to help bring cleaner air to Liverpool City Region.”
The hydrogen bus project is being put forward by a consortium led by BOC which also includes the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Arcola Energy and works with bus-makers Alexander Dennis and operators Arriva and Stagecoach who are members of the city region’s Bus Alliance.