Hydrogen and Electric Buses To Be Trialled in Regional NSW Test

Hydrogen and Electric Buses To Be Trialled in Regional NSW Test

Hydrogen and electric buses are set to be trialled in regional NSW, as part of a $25 million scheme that pits the two technologies against each other.

Sydney has had electric buses for a while, with 55 buses in the fleet and operating out of the Leichhardt Depot, but this new scheme will bring renewable energy-powered buses to regional NSW, powered by either hydrogen or electric batteries, as decided by fleet operators.

This also comes over a year after the NSW government announced that its first hydrogen bus would hit the streets of the Central Coast, as operated by Red Bus and built by local bus manufacturer ARCC.

“We are about to kick off our first hydrogen bus trial on the Central Coast to better understand how the technology compares to battery electric buses and this trial will determine the most suitable technology to deliver the best services for our regional and rural communities,” the NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said.

This is a pretty interesting test and should exemplify the benefits and limitations of both technologies. Electric vehicles can be powered off electricity as charged from the grid, or from renewable energy sources owned by the operator. Unfortunately, electric vehicles typically have a lower range compared to ICE alternatives.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles could be the answer to this range issue, especially in commercial capacities, but the technology itself also requires some environmental analysis. For renewable purposes, hydrogen is only ‘green’ if it’s being created with renewable energy powering the electrolysis process. Otherwise, you’re just moving emissions from the vehicle to the hydrogen-creation facility (as the facility would be fossil fuel dependent). At the time of writing, there are only two hydrogen-powered cars available in Australia.

“The transition of our bus fleet will have widespread benefits including improving air quality, noise reduction, a smoother trip for commuters and creating jobs right across NSW,” NSW Treasurer and Minister for Energy Matt Kean said.

“Hydrogen is one of the many ways forward in the heavy transport sector and this will ensure investment in clean technology, grow the economy and support regional jobs.”

The NSW government is hoping to reach net zero by 2050, and Kean said that transitioning bus technology is a key part to this.

Expressions of interests are now open to bus and coach fleet operators.

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