FT hydrogen bus Translink NI

Wrightbus has been manufacturing hydrogen double decker buses since 2020

Plans have been unveiled for a multi-million pound green hydrogen production facility at the Ballymena headquarters of the bus manufacturer Wrightbus.

Subject to planning approval, the new facility, which is being delivered by Wrightbus in partnership with Hygen Energy, will initially produce enough clean energy to power 300 hydrogen powered buses a day in Northern Ireland.

Green hydrogen is a completely renewable fuel, meaning it does not create any carbon emissions. It is made by using renewable electricity to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen – a process called electrolysis. The hydrogen is then used onsite or transported to where it is needed.

Jo Bamford, chairman of Wrightbus, said: “Wrightbus is delighted to be working with Hygen on this hydrogen production project at our factory in Ballymena.

“One of our key objectives when we purchased Wrightbus in 2019 was to bring the first UK manufactured hydrogen double decker bus to market.

“We have done this, with our Hydroliner buses now moving passengers every day in a number of cities across the UK, including here in Belfast.

“Hydrogen is the best means of decarbonising many bus routes, but for this to happen bus operators need a reliable and voluminous supply of low-cost low-carbon hydrogen. It is great to see a project that is being sized to enable future demand for hydrogen here in Northern Ireland to be met.

“This project will initially be able to produce enough hydrogen to run up to 300 buses, and has the potential to triple in scale as demand for hydrogen increases. We hope it will set an example for how these projects will be designed and built.”

A community consultation process for the project is now under way, led by Renewable Connections, development partner of Hygen. This is aimed at encouraging people in the vicinity of the site to provide their feedback on the proposed project before any planning application is submitted.

It is intended that a planning application will be submitted to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in April 2023. It is hoped a planning decision will be issued by the end of 2023, meaning the facility will become operational in summer 2024.