Aberdeen is first in Europe to offer hydrogen powered cars for public use

Aberdeen is marking another clean energy first as the city council's flagship hydrogen programme introduces H2 vehicles to the city's car club.

The city council and car club partner Co-wheels today unveiled the two Hyundai ix35 SUVs during a special event at Marischal College.

Aberdeen City Council secured Transport Scotland funding to buy the Hyundais with a view not only to encouraging businesses and individuals to try out and buy hydrogen vehicles, but also as the next step in building a hydrogen infrastructure in the city and extending the use of hydrogen-fuelled transport in the North-east and Scotland as a whole.

The cars will be made available for public use on a pay-as-you-go basis later this year, following an initial testing period and a series of promotional events.

Lead member for hydrogen Councillor Barney Crockett said: "Today marks another important milestone for Aberdeen and its future-focused Hydrogen Strategy.

"Once again we are demonstrating that by taking the lead on developing and using new and innovative technologies, we can offer environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional methods of transport which rely on fossil fuels.

Councillor Crockett, who chairs the European hydrogen association HyER, added: "Aberdeen is developing a reputation as a 'can-do' hydrogen city. The Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project, which attracted £21million of investment into the city, saw the deployment of Europe's largest hydrogen bus fleet on our streets.

"Aberdeen is renowned as an energy city and for being keen to drive forward new energy technologies and work with countries across the world to secure its future as an energy leader.

"With these cars, we are taking things to the next level, moving ever closer to becoming a world-leading renewables city and securing a hydrogen economy in Aberdeen, presenting tangible opportunities to the energy industry."

Today's event is the latest in a series of firsts for Aberdeen's car club. In 2012, Co-wheels became the first car club in the world to trial hydrogen cars, in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Hyundai.

It was also the first in Scotland to add electric cars to its fleet and has the largest electric fleet of any UK car club, and it was the first in Britain to make wheelchair accessible vehicles available for hire.

Managing director of Co-wheels Richard Falconer said: "Co-wheels has always pioneered cleaner and greener travel options, and these hydrogen powered cars are another step toward improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions in the city.

"We are delighted to be working with Aberdeen City Council to enable residents, council staff and local businesses access to this cutting-edge green driving technology."

The cars are being put through their paces during an initial phase of testing before Co-wheels makes them available for business and public use.

The Hyundai ix35 boasts similar levels of convenience and performance to conventional internal combustion cars.

Its hydrogen capacity gives it a driving range of 525km (326 miles) on a single fuelling.

The vehicles convert the hydrogen into electricity to create the power to drive them. Unlike traditional cars, the hydrogen cars produce no harmful emissions, and in fact only produce water vapour at the tail pipe.

Once in full operation, the Hyundais will be fuelled using locally-produced hydrogen.

Motor UK Product Public Relations Manager Robin Hayes said: "Hyundai are proud to be part of Aberdeen's Hydrogen story and in particular, we are pleased to see how Co-wheels are putting these vehicles into their normal fleet so as many drivers as possible can experience this technology and realise how little behavioural change is required.

These two ix35 Fuel Cell's are the first commercially available passenger FCEV's to be delivered in Scotland and we look forward to increasing this number in the months and years ahead.

Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport & Islands said: "Transport Scotland have supported the introduction of these cars to complement Aberdeen's growing fleet of ultra-low emission vehicles, including buses and vans.

The fact that they will be deployed in the car club and be so accessible by the public and council staff as well as by local businesses, means that many more people will be able to experience the benefits of clean and green motoring first hand."

The unveiling comes just before the start of Hydrogen Week which begins on Friday (11 March) and will see a series of events and conferences held across the.

As a leading hydrogen city, Aberdeen has been selected to host the only Scottish event, which will close Hydrogen Week on18 March.

The Aberdeen Hydrogen Showcase 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.

Aberdeen's fleet of hydrogen buses, cars and vans will form the centrepiece for the event.

The use of hydrogen as a transport fuel offers great promise as a key component of a low carbon energy system. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit no harmful emissions, are considerably more efficient than the fossil-fuelled equivalents and are virtually noise free.

As well as the benefits to the transport sector, hydrogen has a potentially vital role in the broader energy storage system – if it is generated from intermittent renewable electricity sources, such as wind turbines, it can be stored indefinitely and used for a variety of purposes including as a transport fuel, injection into the natural gas grid and used to generate electricity at times of peak demand.

Aberdeen's hydrogen projects and the further opportunities they bring will widen the city's capabilities in the energy sector and contribute towards its evolution into a true all-energy centre of excellence.