The Kittybrewster hydrogen refuelling station forms a key part of Aberdeen’s drive towards zero carbon transport. We take a closer look.

With the government’s Road to Zero strategy aiming to reduce emissions from all vehicle types to zero by 2040, forward-looking councils and fleet operators are already taking action to provide clean public transport alternatives.

As part of its efforts to lower carbon emissions, Aberdeen City Council partnered with BOC in 2015 to open the UK’s largest hydrogen vehicle refuelling station at Kittybrewster bus depot, which has already led to a significant reduction in emissions.

A state-of-the-art refuelling station

The facility uses on-site electrolysis to produce 360kg of clean hydrogen each day – enough to power the city’s fleet of 15 42-seater buses.

The process works by extracting hydrogen from water using renewably-generated electricity. The hydrogen is then stored as a compressed gas until needed.

While the station was originally designed to refuel single-deck buses, it has undergone numerous upgrades in the past four years. It can now offer public refuelling of cars and vans, as well as accommodating double-deck buses.

“The station was originally built to refuel buses, says Councillor Philip Bell, Aberdeen City Council’s hydrogen spokesperson. “It’s been scaled up to refuel cars, vans, waste trucks and road sweepers.”

And the drivers who use the facility daily have found the transition to hydrogen fuel a simple, and beneficial, process.

“Refuelling the bus is very easy, it’s just like fuelling a normal vehicle,” says Robert Wilson, Training and Recruitment Officer, First Group. “Driving a hydrogen bus, it’s a lot smoother than driving a normal bus and quieter as you have no engine noise.”

Making safety a priority

Understandably, with projects like this, safety is paramount, and that’s where BOC’s expertise came in. We worked closely with the council to implement key safety measures from the outset. A thorough risk assessment was undertaken and shared with the public, along with details of our exemplary safety record and the safety measures installed at the site, including continuous leak monitoring.

“BOC’s experience with clean goes back a long way. They’re a safe pair of hands,” says Councillor Bell.

One of Europe’s highest-performing hydrogen refuelling stations

Today, Kittybrewster is one of the highest-performing hydrogen refuelling stations in Europe, with a 99.5% performance rate and no failed refuels since the launch.

Over the initial four-year period, the fleet of 10 hydrogen buses have saved over 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide compared to if the equivalent diesel buses had been used.

Since 2015, over a million clean bus miles have been driven by the fleet and we have refuelled the fleet of buses over 8,000 times here at Kittybrewster,” says BOC’s Clean Fuels Team

It has also significantly reduced noise pollution in the area, as there’s no engine noise from the hydrogen buses.

Looking to the future

Moving forward, there’s the potential for Aberdeen City Council to provide energy storage and grid balancing services in the future, as well as expanding the fleet of hydrogen buses.

Meanwhile, with hydrogen being a proven zero emissions fuel for public transport projects, BOC is keen to work with other councils to help deliver low carbon transport targets across the UK.

To find out more about BOC’s hydrogen solutions for transport visit www.boconline.co.uk/hydrogen or email h2refuelling@boc.com
Kittybrewster in numbers

0 carbon emissions from hydrogen fuel
• Takes just 10 minutes to refuel a bus and 5 minutes for a car
• Fleet size increased to 15 double decker hydrogen buses in 2021
• Offers up to 350km range for a bus
360kg of hydrogen produced daily
• Station has a 99.5% performance rate

We can show local councils and regions how hydrogen can deliver zero-emission public transport so contact us today by getting in touch with BOC’s Clean Fuels Team at h2refuelling@boc.com or find out more at www.boconline.co.uk/hydrogen