A £21million green transport project marks its first anniversary of operations today (Friday, 11 March).
The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project has seen Europe's largest fuel cell bus fleet travel take to the streets of the Granite City, and the creation of the UK's first hydrogen production and bus refuelling station, along with a purpose-built maintenance facility.
In the first year, the fleet has travelled 250,000 miles – the equivalent distance of each bus driving round the world or travelling 25 times to London and back again.
The Van Hool vehicles have carried more than 440,000 passengers on the First X40 Bridge of Don to Kingswells Park and Ride and Stagecoach X17 Guild Street to Westhill Park and Ride route, as well as putting in appearances to a number of high-profile transnational events in the city.
That's an average of 36,700 passengers each month.
The hydrogen production and refuelling station, which is owned and operated by BOC, a member of the Linde Group, has refuelled the vehicles more than 1600 times.
The buses, which produce no harmful emissions and produce only water vapour at the tailpipe, have proven to be almost four times more fuel efficient than their diesel equivalents.
The project, which has backing from Europe, the UK Government and the Scottish Government, as well as a broad range of private sector partners, is the most high-profile of a range of projects designed to create a hydrogen economy in the city.
Led by Aberdeen City Council, the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project is testing the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen transport technologies. Based on the success seen so far, the council is looking at options to increase the size of the fleet.
Building on Aberdeen's world-wide reputation in the energy industry, the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project is part of the H2 Aberdeen initiative, which is enabling the development and deployment of further hydrogen infrastructure and vehicles.
This work will open the way for new opportunities and accelerate the commercial use of hydrogen as a fuel, offering green transport and energy storage solutions.
Councillor Barney Crockett, Aberdeen City Council's lead member for hydrogen, said: "The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project has been a great success story for Aberdeen and all of the partners and funders involved in it.
"In the space of just a year since we moved into the operational phase, the project has outperformed expectations.
"It's been very well received by the bus drivers and members of the public, and has created a real buzz about the city's hydrogen capabilities.
"These vehicles have replaced 10 diesel buses on the city's streets, cutting the amount of toxins polluting our air on a daily basis and helping us work towards making Aberdeen a cleaner, greener city, with a clear focus on low-carbon technologies.
"On the strength of the project, we've managed to introduce other hydrogen vehicles to Aberdeen and have successfully cemented our position as a leading hydrogen city.
"By working with this clean, renewable fuel we are securing our position as a world-leading energy city which will continue to not only attract significant investment, but also present exciting new research, development and employment opportunities."
Dr Hamish Nichol, BOC's innovation manager for hydrogen, said: "BOC is delighted to be celebrating the first year of the Aberdeen hydrogen bus refuelling station. The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project has established the city's credentials as a centre for investment in low-carbon technologies and on a local level is helping to improve air quality in the city.
"The result of a successful public-private partnership project, BOC's H2 refuelling station at Kittybrewster provides a clear demonstration of the viability of hydrogen as a carbon-free, zero emission fuel and redefines the benchmark for other refuelling stations to follow. We are very proud of the station's 99.99% per cent availability which clearly defines the station as World Class.
Dr Nichol added: "The support BOC has received from our project partners in the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project has been excellent."
David Phillips, First Aberdeen managing director, said: "We are proud of our role as an operator of these ground-breaking hydrogen vehicles and I'm delighted to mark the one year anniversary today.
"They've been an effective addition to our Aberdeen fleet and the feedback we've had from both passengers and the drivers who've had them on the roads every day has been extremely positive.
"More public transport journeys are made by bus than any other mode and it's important we continue to embrace changes that benefit both the passenger and the environment.
"We are keen to continue to work closely with our partners to ensure that together we achieve real and lasting modal shift."
Steve Walker, managing Director for Stagecoach North Scotland said: "Reaching the first year of operation is a huge milestone for the Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project. We are really pleased with how the vehicles are performing on the road and we have had a significant amount of positive feedback from our passengers on the quality of the buses. We are looking forward to the next year of operating the hydrogen powered vehicles."
The anniversary coincides with the first day of Hydrogen Week, which will see a series of events taking place across the UK, culminating with the Aberdeen Hydrogen Showcase conference at the AECC next Friday (18 March).
As Scotland's only H2 Week event, it will demonstrate the link between renewable energy, hydrogen, and transport in an event which will bring local authorities and industry together to explore achievements made to date and future opportunities.
Earlier this week, Aberdeen City Council and car club partner Co-wheels unveiled two hydrogen-powered Hyundai ix35s, making Co-wheels the first car club in Europe to have fuel cell vehicles in its fleet.
The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project has been co-funded by Scottish, UK and European partners: the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK (£2.4million); Scottish Government (£1.7million); Scottish Enterprise (£1.7million);Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) through the High V.LO-City and HyTransit projects (£8.3million); Aberdeen City Council (£2million); First (£1million); Stagecoach (£1million); Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution £750,000; and Scotland Gas Network £200,000. BOC has invested £1million in the hydrogen production and refuelling station.