UK: Transport for London has placed a £12m order for Wrightbus to supply what the authority says will be the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-deck buses, and their associated fuelling infrastructure.

The 20 buses will be fitted with FCveloCity-HD 85 kW fuel cell modules from Ballard Power Systems.

They are to be used on routes 245, 7 and N7 from 2020. TfL said they would have on-board USB charging points, making bus travel ‘even more attractive’.

The vehicles will need to be refuelled once a day for 5 min, which TfL said would make them ‘much quicker to power up when compared with conventional battery-electric buses.’

TfL is leading the procurement within the Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe project, which aims to bring down the cost of vehicles by buying in bulk with other authorities; JIVE aims to deploy 139 zero-emission fuel cell buses and associated refuelling infrastructure across five countries.

More than £5m for the order is being provided by the EU’s Fuel Cells & Hydrogen Joint Undertaking and the Innovation & Networks Executive Agency, and there is £1m from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles.

‘Innovating and using hydrogen means we have flexibility in matching the right fuel with the operational requirements of the network’, said Claire Mann, TfL's Director of Bus Operations, when the order was announced on May 10. ‘We are also pleased to be leading an initiative that brings down the cost of buying the greenest buses across the continent and within our own country, as we know pollution doesn’t respect national or local boundaries.’