Solar to Produce Hydrogen for British Buses

A project at Britain’s Cambridge University will power buses with hydrogen that is made from solar electricity.

CAMBRIDGE, England, UK, 2001-11-21 [SolarAccess.com] A project will launch soon at Britain’s Cambridge University to power buses with hydrogen that is made from solar electricity. The university will partner with consulting engineers Whitby Bird & Partners and the Municipality of Gotland in Sweden, to develop the world’s largest Solar Hydrogen Energy demonstration project. The European Commission is expected to provide a grant of £2 million. The project will involve a system of photovoltaic cells that will convert sunlight into electricity, which will be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The PV cells will be installed above a colonnade at the West Cambridge site and will use the hydrogen they produce to power a bus service between the site and the city centre. As well as reducing noise on city roads, the only emission from its fuel cell engine will be water vapour. A similar project will be carried out on the Swedish island of Gotland, where an array of PV cells will replace the roofs of a number of municipal buildings. The project will be carried out in the world heritage city of Visby, where there is a strong demand for clean transportation to protect the city’s medieval wall. The island of Gotland wants to be a sustainable energy society by 2025, and is already an EC sustainable community. It uses solar, wind, biomass, small hydro and geothermal power to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power. The European Union’s fifth framework program is the funding mechanism for research and demonstration programs, with a particular focus on reduced carbon emissions from generation and from transport. The PV-hydrogen project was awarded one of the highest scores at the appraisal stage for the grant. The University of Cambridge Estate Management & Building Service will manage the renewable energy project as part of the West Cambridge Development. It will form part of the overall infrastructure of the development and will be the first of its kind in the U.K. “The photovoltaic colonnade and fuel cell bus project is very exciting; it presents a green alternative to oil,” says project manager Colin Saunders. “This is transport from sunshine. The scheme is an operational demonstration of areas of technology that are under research within the University including PV cells, gas storage, fuel cells and the technology to control the emerging systems. It will raise global interest.” Ben Madden of Whitby Bird & Partners says the project “will demonstrate how hydrogen allows renewable energy to be stored and used in transport. It will encourage the uptake of similar technologies, acting as the first step on the path leading us out of our climate-changing fossil fuel-based economy.”
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