Monday 5 September 2022

Clean Green Fuel For Buses

Or Is It?

And there's more from Stagecoach's ...
An yesterday we met the next batch of Voltra buses from GoAhead North East/
And even more in London
It does seem that the electric bus craze is growing.

Whilst there is no doubt that electric vehicles are good for air quality, particularly in our cities, a much more challenging challenge is to look at the effect of electric vehicles on emissions overall.

This diagram is thought provoking. It shows how electricity is generated, sorted by fuel used.

 WHITE  is renewable

PALE BLUE is nuclear

CYAN is fossil fuels

MID BLUE is gas

DARK BLUE is oil

Whilst renewable is a growing part of energy production (wind farms, wave power) the total  is only a little over 33% by 2030. Even renewables are not pollution free or energy free. The wind and wave turbines have to be manufactured and transported. Staff will need to install the equipment and there will be pollution there.

Boris wants to support the building of Sizewell C but we all know that there is a huge environmental cost with nuclear, although that cost may well be buried (literally?) in the long term.

But What About Hydrogen?

Everything about it is expensive!

But surely, we hear you cry, the only waste product is water.

That refers to "Fuel Cell" technology where hydrogen is processed in what might be called a "continuous battery". The "battery" does, indeed produce electricity and the waste is indeed water.

Two newcomers to this craze have recently been revealed by the transport press.



But what about the hydrogen itself. How "green" is hydrogen production?

Here is a little video showing various ways in which Hydrogen is produced, or might be produced if the process can be made cheap enough.

How green is hydrogen? At the moment very not green and pumping out Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide - both of which we do not want.

The video reveals that the vast majority of hydrogen produced now and in the medium term future is  "grey" i.e polluting.

What about "green" hydrogen. You may remember making some by electrolysis is school Chemistry lessons. Salt water, two metal electrodes a battery and a means of collecting the gas (upside down test tube).

What joy when we put a match to the end of the tube and it went "pop" as the hydrogen "exploded" (reasonably safely!)

You can make hydrogen commercially like this but it seems perverse to use electricity to make hydrogen to feed a fuel cell to make electricity.

Which is why Montpelier cancelled its order to hydrogen buses (see above!)

The problem is simply expressed by none other than James Doohan as Montgomery Scott of the Starship Enterprise

I canna change the laws of physics, Cap'n

Sorting these misunderstandings out is important because we have an energy crisis on top of the emissions "misunderstandings".

fbb's broad-brush solution in our cities as a policy for Rishi/Liz (delete where inapplicable when the news breaks) to adopt is simply stated:-

Ban cars, build tramways!

It would be cheaper in the long run!

We'll be back to less contentious matters tomorrow!
 Next publicity matters blog : Tuesday 6th September 


  1. that electricity production graph is definitely not for the UK. Generation of electricity by coal is minimal now - fossil fuel production is pretty much exclusively gas. See, for example,

  2. I'm afraid the only emissions misunderstanding is with you. That electricity neither electricity nor hydrogen is produced from 100% "clean" sources is not a revelation and is factored in when considering the whole life emissions right from manufacture to scrap. And guess what? Zero emission vehicle are still much cleaner than internal combustion.