As we are all acutely aware, tackling our climate emergency is of paramount importance. A large part of this involves the research and development of clean energy. Here we have Scottish and Northern Irish companies working together to tackle the issue of clean energy buses.

Why are Northern Ireland investing in hydrogen buses?

Northern Ireland’s government are working towards having zero carbon emissions in its public transport system by 2040. Hydrogen fuelled buses are one step in the process.

As Northern Ireland’s Infrastructure Minister Nicola Mallon said at the contract signing: “Along with other Executive colleagues I have a responsibility to this generation of young people and the next generation who will live with the consequences of the climate crisis. This means taking action now, being ambitious despite the challenges we face and working together across the government and private sector to drive the innovative solutions that will be needed.”

Who are the Scottish company involved?

There are three Northern Irish companies, Translink, Energia Group and Wrightbus, working together to make this transition. They have hired Logan Energy to plan, produce and run the hydrogen refuelling station at Milewater Service Center. Apparently, their experience and success really made them stand out amongst the competition.

The project also received a government grant of £1.9million, from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles.

It’s worth remembering here that grant funding doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from getting your R&D tax credits.

How is hydrogen a clean energy?

The hydrogen used to power the buses is renewable and clean because of how it is generated. A windfarm in County Antrim will power the electrolyser that separates water into oxygen and hydrogen. This hydrogen is converted into electrical energy using a sustainable fuel cell.

As Chris Conway of Translink explains: “As the only emission from hydrogen fuel cells is water vapour, there are no air pollutants, giving us zero-emission public transport.”

Clean energy.

Will the buses work as well?

The ‘Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles’ (FCEVs), buses, can travel 300km on 30ky of hydrogen. And they don’t need time to recharge, they just refuel in the same time as a diesel bus. The aim is for three of these lovely buses to be up and running by the end of this year.

Chief Executive of Logan Energy, Bill Ireland, said: “The refuelling station we intend to supply will be our largest capacity yet and will be the first one intended for the refuelling of double decker buses.

Our role in this project will be extremely valuable in building on our already extensive experience of delivering hydrogen refuelling stations across the UK and Europe.”

There is every confidence that this is a sustainable way forward for Northern Ireland’s public transport bus system. And we wish them the very best of luck.

If any of you are investing in other solutions to our climate crisis, please don’t overlook R&D Tax Credits as a source of investment in your future. At first glance, it does seem tricky to apply. But when you’re investing in cutting edge scientific or technological innovation, you are entitled to claim this substantial tax relief. We’ll sort out the details. Just don’t miss out. Our average claim is £49,000.

Jamie Smith