A fleet of hydrogen-powered double decker buses is set to be introduced in Aberdeen, making it the first city in the world to use them, according to the council.

The contract was signed this month and will deliver 15 buses, which will be introduced later this year. The project has been funded by Aberdeen City Council, European Union (FCH JU) and Scottish Government with an investment of about £500,000 per vehicle, building on initial research funding contributed by the Scottish Cities Alliance.

The vehicles will be operated by First and the project is part funded by the European Union’s JIVE project, which aims to aid commercialisation of hydrogen buses through joint procurement between cities. Cities that will follow Aberdeen’s footsteps include London and Birmingham, with Dundee and Brighton and Hove being lead partners in JIVE2.

The council claims the buses are more efficient than electric equivalents, because refuelling taking less than 10 minutes and they offer a greater range. Water is the only emission from the vehicles.

Councillor Philip Bell, Aberdeen City Council’s hydrogen spokesperson, said: “Aberdeen appears to be pushing boundaries with an innovative approach when it comes to hydrogen, the entrepreneurial and technological leadership puts Aberdeen on the global map.

“Striving to tackle air pollution, these additional buses highlight Aberdeen City Council’s commitment and ambition as a ‘Centre for Excellence’ for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.”

David Phillips, Operations Director for First Aberdeen, said: “First Aberdeen is delighted to be the first bus company to operate these unique new Wrightbus hydrogen-powered double decker buses for the city of Aberdeen. It is a pleasure to continue our partnership with Aberdeen City Council on this innovative project and we applaud the council in its continued support of the hydrogen bus technology. We very much look forward to operating these new vehicles for the people of Aberdeen.”

FCH JU’s Executive Director Bart Biebuyck said: “Aberdeen is at the forefront of hydrogen mobility for public transport: it has been operating the first fleet of 10 fuel cell buses in Europe. With the addition of 15 new double decker buses, it also demonstrates the ease to scale up for zero emission mobility with hydrogen and is something for other European cities to follow.”

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “The Scottish Government has supported a number of major projects which demonstrate the use of hydrogen. The First Minister has announced our commitment to undertake a detailed assessment on hydrogen and its potential to contribute to achieving our net-zero 2045 target. Our track record of early actions to fund hydrogen initiatives has created a favourable opinion of Scotland in the UK and abroad as an innovation leader in this area. We were delighted to contribute to the funding which has made this exciting next phase of Aberdeen’s hydrogen journey possible. This important investment will help the city achieve its decarbonisation ambitions and further cement its reputation for innovation and technology.”