Wrightbus to create hydrogen production facility
Plans have been unveiled for a multi-million-pound green hydrogen production facility at the Ballymena headquarters of Wrightbus.
Subject to planning approval, the new facility, which is being delivered by Wrightbus in partnership with Hygen Energy, will initially produce enough clean energy to power 300 hydrogen buses a day in Northern Ireland.
Green hydrogen is made by using renewable electricity to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen – a process called electrolysis. The hydrogen is then used onsite or transported to where it is needed.
“This project will initially be able to produce enough hydrogen to run up to 300 buses, and has the potential to triple in scale as demand for hydrogen increases” – Jo Bamford, Chairman of Wrightbus
Jo Bamford, Chairman of Wrightbus and also a listed Director of Hygen Energy, said: “Wrightbus is delighted to be working with Hygen on this hydrogen production project at our factory in Ballymena.
“One of our key objectives when we purchased Wrightbus in 2019 was to bring the first UK manufactured hydrogen double-decker bus to market.
“We have done this, with our Hydroliner buses now moving passengers every day in a number of cities across the UK, including here in Belfast.
“Hydrogen is the best means of decarbonising many bus routes, but for this to happen bus operators need a reliable and voluminous supply of low-cost low carbon hydrogen. It is great to see a project that is being sized to enable future demand for hydrogen here in Northern Ireland to be met.
“This project will initially be able to produce enough hydrogen to run up to 300 buses, and has the potential to triple in scale as demand for hydrogen increases. We hope it will set an example for how these projects will be designed and built.”
The project is proposed on approximately 2.5 acres of land at the Ballymena factory, making use of an existing building located at the north-west of the site. The majority of the equipment is to be installed inside the existing red brick building with some balance of plant to be installed outside within the existing security fences. The site will be made up of a series of equipment that is required for safely producing green hydrogen. A planning application for the development is expected to be submitted in April 2023 and it is intended the facility will be built and operational by summer 2024.
A community consultation process for the project is now underway, led by Renewable Connections, development partner of Hygen. This is aimed at encouraging people in the vicinity of the site to provide their feedback on the proposed project before any planning application is submitted.