Next-gen hydrogen buses closer to hitting the road with £54 million Government-led funding

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Image: DUNCAN COGHLAN

Green projects aimed at creating the next generation of electric trucks and hydrogen-powered buses are set to secure nearly 10,000 UK jobs and save millions of tonnes of carbon emissions, the Government says, thanks to over £54 million funding announced on 22 March by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

The three projects in Cwmbran, Warwickshire and Ballymena will receive more than £54 million of funding from the UK government and industry and it is estimated they could save 45 million tonnes of carbon emissions, equal to the total amount of emissions produced by 1.8 million cars over their lifetimes.

The Government said that investment in new technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, will help cement the UK’s position as a global leader in automotive technology and support the country to build back better and greener from the pandemic by helping to meet the its climate goals.

£31.9 million has been allocated to develop electric propulsion systems for heavy goods vehicles in Cwmbran, Wales, £11.3 million has been set aside to develop and manufacture energy-saving technology from motorsport for use in cars and vans from a centre in Warwickshire, and £11.2 million to develop and manufacture low-cost hydrogen fuel cell technology for buses and create a hydrogen centre of excellence with Wrightbus in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK is leading the world by developing cutting edge technology that will help to tackle climate change and lead to a green, competitive future for our automotive supply chain.

“These projects will not only help accelerate the wider application of greener technology in lorries and buses, but will also help generate the high-skilled jobs to level up communities across the UK while ensuring we build back greener from the pandemic.”

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis welcomed the news: “Northern Ireland and the local economy thrives on innovation, manufacturing and technological advancements, leading the charge in allowing us to reach our ambitious goal of a net zero future by 2050.

“With a landmark investment of £11.2 million this will enable Wrightbus to become a centre of excellence for zero-emission technology in the heart of Ballymena.

“This is outstanding news for the people of Northern Ireland, protecting more than 1,000 skilled jobs and creating more than 3,000 additional jobs over the next 10 years. This will continue to level up our local economy, allowing Wrightbus to continue producing the next generation of world-leading hydrogen buses.”

Executive Chairman of Wrightbus, Jo Bamford, said: “The funding will allow us to realise our ambitions of creating a centre of excellence for zero-emission technology in Ballymena, enabling us to produce the next generation of world-leading hydrogen buses at a higher volume and a lower cost than ever before.

“It will safeguard more than 1,000 skilled jobs and will allow us to create more than 3,000 additional jobs over the next 10 years, giving a significant boost to the wider economy in Northern Ireland.”

The funding is being coordinated by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) which supports the development of low carbon emission technologies for cars, buses, heavy goods vehicles, and vans.