A flagship scheme to introduce hydrogen buses to the streets of Liverpool, in the north of England, has effectively been suspended after just three months while operators scramble to find a reliable H2 supply, local media has reported.

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Problems with sourcing hydrogen to fuel the 350kW buses has led to all 20 brand new vehicles being taken off the road, according to the Liverpool Echo.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA), the local authority which bought the buses using public funds in earlier this year, blamed “global” hydrogen supply problems.

“While the introduction of any major transport infrastructure on this scale will take time to implement, recent global events outside of the Combined Authority's control have meant that the global supply of hydrogen fuel has been temporarily impacted,” a spokesperson for the LCRCA is quoted as saying.

It is not clear which specific global problems LCRCA is referring to, but it added that the operator of the route, Arriva, which owns the fuel contract, is now in “advanced talks” to secure a stable supply of H2, as well as a potential pathway to use 100% green hydrogen.

This implies that until now, the buses have been running on grey hydrogen, made with unabated fossil gas which researchers have found is significantly more polluting, on a well-to-wheel basis, than diesel.

Arriva declined to comment on the source of its H2 supply, or the efforts it is making to find an alternative.

The 20 buses were bought with cash from the Liverpool City Region Transforming Cities Fund in 2021, and introduced with much fanfare by city mayor Steve Rotherham in May this year.

Part of the programme involved building refuelling facilities, touted at the time as the first for the Liverpool city region, known locally as Merseyside.

LCRCA had not responded to questions from Hydrogen Insight at the time of publication.

The vehicles, manufactured by UK automaker Alexander Dennis, a subsidiary of Canada’s NFI, are fitted with 350kW of fuel cells made by Ballard and can store 29.4kg of hydrogen at 350 bar in a rear-mounted tank.

The tanks can be filled in five minutes, and a single tank can take the bus up to 300 miles, according to Alexander Dennis.