London Introduces Hydrogen-Powered Buses Alongside Hybrid, e-Buses

Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor announced the addition of 20 hydrogen-fuelled buses to the city’s existing fleet. London already has 500 electric and 3,800 hybrid double-decker buses in active service

Photograph of a hydrogen-fuelled double-decker bus recently commissioned into service by the London Assembly. Credit: London Assembly website

Photograph of a hydrogen-fuelled bus recently commissioned into service by the London Assembly. Credit: London Assembly website

London is well on its way to transform its iconic double-decker buses into sustainable public transport of the near future. Sadiq Khan, the city’s mayor announced that a fleet of 20 new buses will be added into active service which will run on hydrogen. These buses will run alongside 500 electric and 3,800 hybrid buses which are already in service. The government has set a target to make all of London’s buses zero-emission by the end of this decade.

The buses will be equipped with a fuel cell which will generate electricity when hydrogen and oxygen react with each other. Although the only by-product will be water vapour, the real impact of its carbon neutrality will prove useful only when sustainable measures are adopted across board. This means that unless low-carbon measures are employed from the point when hydrogen is produced till water vapour is expelled from the tailpipe, powering buses with hydrogen may not make an impact on London’s carbon footprint.
The hydrogen for London’s buses are being sourced from an industrial gas plant in Northwest England. This is currently the cleanest method to source hydrogen for commercial purposes. In 2023, the London authorities hope to power their double-deckers from electricity generated by the Hywind offshore wind farm. The 30 MW wind farm is located on the coasts of Scotland and is operated by Equinor.

London’s hydrogen buses are one of the several major initiatives being pushed by the city authorities to reduce carbon emissions generated by public transport. The Mayor’s office has spent almost €350 million to phase out fossil fuels such as diesel by retrofitting buses to use hybrid, hydrogen or run entirely on electricity. Mayor Khan has stated that one of his office’s major transport plans has been to have “80% of all trips in London to be made on foot, by cycle, or using public transport by 2041.”