A hydrogen fuel-cell bus will soon join the New South Wales Central Coast bus network as part of a state government backed trial.
The locally assembled hydrogen bus will be incorporated into the public transport network operated by Red Bus, with local suppliers joining the trial to evaluate the zero-emissions technology in anticipation of a much broader roll-out.
New South Wales energy minister Matt Kean says the trial will be a major step towards establishing a renewable hydrogen transport industry in the state.
“Unlocking hydrogen use in the heavy transport sector is key to creating new industries and achieving the economic prosperity that comes with it,” Kean said in a statement.
“A green hydrogen industry will encourage NSW investment in clean technology, grow our economy, boost our exports and support regional jobs.”
The hydrogen bus trial is a collaboration between Red Bus, Sydney based bus manufacturer ARCC and Origin Energy, with support from the NSW department of planning and environment.
ARCC unveiled the hydrogen bus at its Smithfield facilities on Wednesday.
In 2019, the NSW government committed to transitioning its entire 8,000 strong public bus fleet to electric models, phasing out its predominantly diesel and LNG fuelled fleet by the end of the decade.
Managing director of ARCC, Peter Murley, says he welcomes the opportunity for the locally based bus manufacturer to demonstrate its hydrogen capabilities and support the NSW government’s efforts to decarbonise the state’s public bus fleet.
The bus will first be evaluated in Sydney, around ARCC’s facilities in Smithfield, before being put into service as part of the Central Coast bus fleet.
State regional transport minister Sam Farraway says the trial will help inform how hydrogen technologies may factor in a broader rollout of zero emissions buses.
“Hydrogen buses have a greater range than battery electric buses, which could make them better suited for use in regional and outer metropolitan areas of the state,” Farraway said.
“This trial is the first step towards us getting a better understanding of how hydrogen buses perform in local conditions, as well as the infrastructure needed to support them.”
Farraway says the performance of the hydrogen bus will be assessed alongside all-electric bus models that are already being evaluated by the state government on the Central Coast.
“The results of the battery electric bus trial on the Central Coast will be compared against the hydrogen bus to understand any key differences, including fuel economy and refuelling times.”
“In some regional areas, buses need to travel greater distances before they refuel, which is why trials like this are important,” Farraway added.
Several ventures are working to establish local hydrogen bus manufacturing and increase the use of hydrogen fuelled buses in Australia, including Victoria-based bus manufacturer Volgren which has secured Victorian government backing to supply two hydrogen fuelled buses for the public transport network.
The Queensland government has also provided funding to support regional transport operator Emerald Coaches to add two hydrogen fuel-cell buses into its fleet by mid-2023, which will transport mine workers and students throughout the Bowen Basin region.