Belfast is set to receive Ireland’s first hydrogen-powered double decker buses before the end of 2020. This is the first major step to de-carbonise Northern Ireland’s public transport to zero emissions by 2040.

The project involves Northern Ireland’s public transport provider Translink, the Energia Group and Wrightbus, with support from the Department for Infrastructure and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

The innovative partnership between the private and public sectors aims to combat climate change and improve air quality – recognised as the greatest environmental health risk in the UK.

Translink has signed a contract with Energia Group for the supply of renewably-sourced hydrogen fuel from an on-shore North Antrim windfarm, and a contract with local manufacturer Wrightbus who will supply three new sustainable fuel cell electric double-decker buses powered by hydrogen. The overall capital investment represents around £4 million.

The pilot project will also deliver the first ever hydrogen refuelling station of its kind in Ireland.

Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway said:

“Today’s announcement marks a major milestone in our efforts to transform public transport and reflects our climate commitment to reduce carbon emissions. This innovative collaboration will not only reduce carbon emissions but will also generate much wider environmental, economic and social benefits for Northern Ireland.”

Energia Group Chief Executive Ian Thom said:

“Energia Group is the first energy company on the island of Ireland to have a long-term hydrogen supply contract with a public transport company.  Working with our subsidiary in Northern Ireland, Power NI, we are developing a number of solutions which will help facilitate the transition of all segments of the transport sector to help meet climate change and air quality standards. This work is an important part of our commitment as a green energy supplier and we are proud to be a key enabler in the decarbonisation of the public transport sector in Northern Ireland.

“We are delighted to partner with Translink on this renewable hydrogen project which brings together both public and private sector investment and innovation. The project will also be an important enabler for the development of the skills and capabilities of local companies, such as Wrightbus, so that export opportunities in the global hydrogen economy can be realised.”

Wrightbus Chairman Jo Bamford said:

As Wrightbus embark on an exciting new era to revolutionise public transport we are delighted to be able to partner Translink with these fantastic world leading Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles. This order helps further cement and develop our valued relationship and further proves that Northern Ireland can be at the front of the world stage when pioneering solutions which deliver zero emissions in our towns and cities throughout the UK and Ireland and the rest of the world whilst helping our local environment and economy.”